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Home » Recent News » Unions Important to News Organizations

Unions Important to News Organizations


On July 15, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and National Public Radio reached a tentative, three-year agreement, preventing 400 NPR employees from striking. Despite soaring public radio ratings following the election of President Donald Trump, NPR sought to institute a two-tier salary system where one group of workers would receive lower pay, which would have dealt a major blow to solidarity. Management considered gutting overtime pay and taking health care coverage away from temporary workers.

“They are trying to lower salary minimums, and they are really trying to weaken the power of the union,” says NPR producer Becky Sullivan, asserting that they were trying to create a situation that allowed outside people to do union work and take away the union’s ability to file a grievance. The new deal includes salary increases and repels efforts to erode union protections and institute the two-tiered salary system.

During negotiations, some of NPR’s most popular staff, including All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, sent a letter to CEO Jarl Mohn detailing the importance of a union contract. “NPR has become great partly because of our labor-management contract,” the letter read in part. “The contract has ensured proper working conditions, collaboration, and collegiality, and an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

“Despite the often-referenced decline in organized labor, news unions have been a major story over the last two years as media outlets like Salon, Vice, MTV News, The Guardian US, Jacobin, Thrillist, Slate, and others have obtained union representation,” wrote Journalist Gary Weiss at the Columbia Journalism Review. “They never really went away, of course, but for the first time in memory they are proactive rather than on the defensive.


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