Chicago Public Media pros to join SAG-AFTRA

Staff members at Chicago Public Media (CPM) on Wednesday voted 40-7 in favor of joining SAG-AFTRA as their union.  The new bargaining unit will cover 49 public media professionals who produce, report, host and present content for WBEZ, Vocalo, Sound Opinions and CPM’s digital services.

CPM employees say they are looking forward to negotiating a first contract. “Chicago Public Media is a valuable resource to all Chicagoans,” said Rob Wildeboer, WBEZ’ criminal and legal affairs reporter. “The CPM staff cares deeply about this organization and its mission.

“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.”

The election was conducted Dec. 18, by the National Labor Relations Board Region 13, voting in the Community Room at Navy Pier.

During their organizing campaign, the Chicago Public Media staffers received widespread support from fellow SAG-AFTRA broadcasters, including letters from broadcasters at National Public Radio, KPBS in San Diego (which also recently voted to join SAG-AFTRA) and the union’s Broadcast Steering Committee. 

“Each of us can attest to the difference that our union has made in our lives and our careers,” the letter signed by 29 members of the Broadcast Steering Committee read.

WBEZ’ Rob Wildeboer“We have ensured that some of the most powerful companies in the world treat the talent that is responsible for creating their content with respect. In all sectors of our industry, we’ve maintained our right to ensure the integrity of our work product, created and maintained fair compensation structures and benefits systems, and ensured high-quality working conditions.”

The Chicago Public Media staff joins a large family of local Chicago news and broadcast members working under SAG-AFTRA contracts at more than 20 local radio and television stations, plus the growing list of public media outlets nationwide electing to join SAG AFTRA.

Other new union members include the staffs at KPBS television and radio, San Diego and KPCC, Pasadena, along with WNYC, New York, KQED, San Francisco and KPLU in Tacoma, Wash.