Oregon Public Broadcasting voluntarily recognizes union of content staff

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The renovated OPB building at night

Devin Dousay/OPB

OPB's headquarters in Portland.

Oregon Public Broadcasting voluntarily recognized March 22 a new union representing hosts, reporters, producers and other content staff. 

More than 60 staffers will be part of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union, including employees of KMHD Jazz Radio, a station run by OPB and licensed to Mt. Hood Community College. 

Six members are from KMHD and 57 are from OPB, according to a union spokesperson. 

“OPB is fortunate to have talented staff, dedicated board members, a large community of passionate and generous members and donors, and energetic volunteers,” said OPB CEO Steven M. Bass in an announcement recognizing the union. 

Allison Frost, a senior producer for the OPB radio show Think Out Loud and one of the lead organizers for the union, said the voluntary recognition is a sign that management is entering negotiations in good faith.

Frost said she did not want to discuss her personal concerns behind forming the union, as the union still needs to survey its members’ priorities before bargaining and members should speak together. 

“We want to have a seat at the table in everything,” Frost said. 

More than 80% of the content creators signed a petition to unionize delivered to management March 14, according to a news release.

“As OPB and KMHD continue to strengthen and expand our public affairs programming and coverage of politics, climate, science, arts and more, it’s crucial that we — the creators of this content — be empowered to help make decisions that affect us,” they said in a letter to management, which they also posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“To that end, we request a systemic change that we strongly believe will provide the structure to ensure we are not just consulted but are represented in vital decisions including but not limited to wages, salaries, working conditions and major systems changes.”

Some staffers at OPB are already unionized, with Service Employees International Union Local 503 representing engineering, operations, IT, administration and member services staff

On Monday, content employees at WFYI in Indianapolis also received voluntary recognition of their SAG-AFTRA union.

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