Employees of Chicago Public Radio voted 40 to seven Wednesday to join SAG-AFTRA—the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The CPM chapter will consist of reporters, producers, hosts, and content presenters at WBEZ, Vocalo, Sound Opinions, and CPM’s digital services. And it’ll include four city room editors at WBEZ that CPM tried to keep out of any future bargaining unit on the grounds that they’re part of management.
I wrote about that dispute earlier this week. CPM challenged the inclusion of Derek John, WBEZ’s community bureaus editor; Cate Cahan, senior editor of the projects desk; Aurora Aguilar, the metro desk editor; and Lynette Kalsnes, the arts and culture desk editor. After a hearing, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled against CPM, which then appealed to the board in Washington, D.C. This appeal was denied Tuesday in a one-sentence order that said CPM had raised “no substantial issues warranting review.”
CPM employees informed interim CEO Alison Scholly of their intent to unionize on September 25, and thereafter had virtually nothing to say to the media. But after Wednesday’s triumph, they broke their silence. Rob Wildeboer, WBEZ’s legal affairs reporter, issued this statement: “Chicago Public Media is a valuable resource to all Chicagoans. The staff of CPM cares deeply about this organization and its mission. Public radio is more than a job. Staff at CPM are deeply committed to the station and we love our work. We have great leaders and a committed board and we believe organizing as staff members is an important step to achieving the goals we all share here: producing excellent journalism that serves the public and making this important local institution even stronger than it is today.”
Terms of CPM’s first contract with SAG-AFTRA will be established in negotiations.