Local Union 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has officially called for a Strike at Chicagoland’s PBS affiliate, Window to the World (WTTW) Communications, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined the picket lines to show her support of the union on Monday.
Following nearly a year of difficult collective bargaining with the station’s management aimed at damaging the work jurisdiction and job protections of the membership, Local 1220 has instructed its members that the unit will, in a sign of solidarity, go out on Strike as of 6:00pm on March 16, 2022.
The IBEW represents over two dozen members at WTTW who consist of technicians, graphic artists and floor crew members responsible for various productions and shows on the channel, including the nightly local affairs program Chicago Tonight.
“It saddens me that the employer has forced us to take such a drastic action, but our hard-working Union members are not willing to bargain away their futures at any cost,” said Local 1220 Business Manager John Rizzo. “The Sisters and Brothers at Channel 11 deserve a fair and respectable contract that protects their livelihoods and their families. That’s worth fighting for. It’s about jobs.”
WTTW and IBEW Local 1220 first entered into a labor agreement in the mid-1950’s. This marks the first time that a Strike has been called against this employer.
Over the last four years, WTTW has attempted numerous times to test the limitations of the agreement to include various workarounds of the jurisdiction so that they may avoid hiring Union members to perform Union work. Local 1220 has filed grievances in every instance, including four cases which advanced to arbitration. In all four decisions, the arbitrators ruled in favor of the Union and the grievances against the company were sustained. The last decision was awarded just days before collective bargaining began on May 7, 2021. The night after bargaining had begun, WTTW’s counsel gave intent to terminate the entire agreement, setting the tone going forward.
WTTW has proposed significant changes to the jurisdiction from day one of collective bargaining and has not provided adequate givebacks to the bargaining unit to match the weight of their asks. The company is holding to their harmful positions that will steal work from the men and women who kept the station operational, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. WTTW has hired dozens of employees in the past two years but has not hired anyone within the Union’s ranks.
The IBEW represents approximately 700,000 active and retired electrical workers in every branch of the electrical industry. Since its founding in 1891, the IBEW has dedicated itself to the well-being of electrical workers and their families and the achievement of continued progress on their behalf.