The staff of Chicago Public Media, the parent company of NPR affiliate WBEZ-FM, is attempting to unionize. That’s according to a report in Current, which says a majority of staff signed a petition requesting representation by SAG-AFTRA and submitted it to interim CEO Alison Scholly on September 25.
Recall that CPM is looking for a new CEO after the surprise resignation of longstanding leader Torey Malatia at the end of July. It’s unclear if the timing of the union petition drive is related to the lack of a permanent CEO. Given that a union petition drive is typically not a short-term project, it’s likely that the timing is more of a coincidence–or perhaps fortuitous, depending on how one looks at it.
In Chicago SAG-AFTRA represents workers at most major radio and TV outlets in Chicago, including reporters, anchors and announcers at news radio WBBM-AM and news unit staff at public TV station WTTW. It also represents staff at public stations like New York’s WNYC-AM/FM, San Francisco’s KQED-FM, Seattle’s KFLU, Washington’s WETA-FM, as well as NPR.
Not surprisingly, the government shutdown is slowing things down, since the National Labor Relations Board is on furlough and can’t review the CPM workers’ petition.