Jun 4, 2024 - News

WBEZ union files labor complaint against Chicago Public Media

Photo of a door that says WBEZ91.5 on it
Chicago Public Media offices at Navy Pier. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing WBEZ journalists, this week filed a federal unfair labor practice charge against parent company Chicago Public Media, alleging the company failed to provide information needed "to represent members and enforce the union contract."

Why it matters: The move marks the latest in a series of escalatory actions from each side, two months after CPM announced 14 layoffs and the dissolution of its podcast unit and sister station Vocalo.

The latest: Monday afternoon, union members planned to ask questions at the CPM board meeting but learned the event was switched from in-person to a Zoom meeting with the chat disabled and cameras off for public attendees.

What they're saying: "To have such a lack of public input in your annual meeting where you are approving the new budget, I just don't know how that happened. I am very surprised, and I'm very disappointed," WBEZ anchor Mary Dixon told Crain's.

The other side: "CPM's board standards and open meeting policies — which have been previously shared with SAG-AFTRA representatives — allow for the public to attend and observe an open meeting. Attendance does not include the right to participate in the meeting," a CPM spokesperson said in a statement.

What's next: The regional office of the National Labor Relations Board is expected to investigate the charge in coming months and determine whether it has merit.

Full disclosure: Monica Eng worked at WBEZ for many years and served, at one time, as a SAG-AFTRA steward.

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