Content creators at PBS NewsHour have revealed that they are attempting to unionize with SAG-AFTRA, which already represents the news unit’s anchors and correspondents.
The workers, who are calling their group the NewsHour Union, announced their organizing attempt on Tuesday. “As the creative engine behind one of the most trusted news institutions in the country, our goal is to strengthen this pillar of American television news by creating a better, healthier and more transparent workplace,” the organizing committee said in a press release, adding that they are hoping to foster “the best workplace in public media.”
More from The Hollywood Reporter
The group is advocating to include more than 75 workers in the bargaining unit, including reporters, editors, producers, associate producers and others. Most of these workers are based in Arlington, Va., but some are based in the PBS NewsHour West Bureau in Phoenix, Ariz. and others are remote workers living across the country, according to the group. PBS NewsHour is owned by WETA, the Washington D.C.-based PBS member station.
The organizing committee says that it presented a petition signed by more than 70 percent of this group of content creators to management on July 5. Since then, “internally at WETA, upper management have acknowledged receipt of the letter and have said they support employees’ right to form a union,” the organizing committee wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. But as of Wednesday, “There has been no official response for our request for voluntary recognition.”
WETA vp of external affairs Mary Stewart says that management has been in contact with the organizers’ designated union representative, and that “our intent is to recognize the union voluntarily,” but that “we have to go through the official, appropriate steps with that union” first.
Stewart adds, “We have a good relationship with our unions.” SAG-AFTRA already represents PBS NewHour anchors and correspondents in their own bargaining unit, in addition to workers at the WETA Classical radio station along with additional workers at WETA. The Directors Guild of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also bargain on behalf of workers at WETA workers. THR has also reached out to PBS NewsHour for comment.
The PBS NewsHour content creator group states that their goal in unionizing is to advocate for “long-term staff investment, which will improve morale and reduce turnover.” The group adds that they “love” their jobs: “We are driven by NewsHour’s mission. It is our hope that NewsHour Productions and WETA management will recognize our union and allow us a protected seat at the table as we work toward a more sustainable company.”