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In These Times - March 22, 2022

At Chicago’s Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) affiliate, WTTW (Window to the World), two dozen broadcast technicians have been on strike since March 16 in a battle to preserve their jobs and safeguard quality media production. The walkout marks the first work stoppage in the station’s 67-year history.

The strikers — members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1220 — include camera operators, editors, graphic artists, lighting technicians and audio professionals who do the behind-the-scenes work producing local news and documentary programs for WTTW, including the nightly news broadcast Chicago Tonight. The union and management have been in contract negotiations since May of last year.

“While the world got to work from home and shelter in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, these essential workers risked their health and the health of their families daily to keep shows like Chicago Tonight on the air,” said Brett Lyons, a business representative for the union. ​“Management rewarded them with nearly an entire calendar year of incredibly difficult collective bargaining.”

The central issue is management’s proposed overhaul to work jurisdiction. All unionized television stations have a set jurisdiction under which only union members — working under a contract providing good wages, benefits and other protections — can shoot and edit content.

Without jurisdiction and the clear job descriptions that come with it, TV stations can get around the union contract and show content from anywhere, or anyone. ...
Read full report at In These Times