Nearly two years after voting to form a union, media workers at WHYY have gotten their first contract.
The contract, ratified overwhelmingly on Tuesday, sets salary floors based on job classification and years of service and grants six weeks of paid parental leave to the roughly 75 workers covered by the agreement.
About half the unit will get raises to meet the new minimum salaries; on average, those raises are more than 5%. For some, the new floor represents a nearly $10,000 raise. Every worker in the unit will get a raise each year of the three-year contract.
Wages and parental leave benefits were major issues for the workers, who said they were driven to organize because they couldn’t see a future for themselves at WHYY otherwise.
“We’re proud to guarantee some mobility for our colleagues and future employees alike, ensuring that WHYY can become a sustainable place to build a career,” Nina Feldman, a WHYY reporter and union shop steward, said in a statement.
“The contract is in my judgment one which is not only fair and equitable, but respectful of the service of any well-performing WHYY employee,” said Bill Marrazzo, CEO and president of the station.
The negotiation was a long, antagonistic, and sometimes public process, stalled by the pandemic and punctuated with nearly two dozen bargaining unit members leaving the public-media station. The process took about 10 months longer than the average time it takes for private-sector workers to get to a first contract.
In June, management told workers they could not afford the union’s requests for a salary floor, the union said on Twitter. Management’s stance infuriated many workers, given the six-figure salaries of WHYY’s top officials, including Marrazzo, who makes $740,000 annually. The unit’s lowest-paid full time employee earns $40,000, the union said.
“Our CEO and six VPs at WHYY earn a combined $2 million+,” the union tweeted. “That alone would cover nearly half the combined salaries of our entire 80-member union.”
WHYY voted to unionize with SAG-AFTRA, which represents workers at NPR affiliates across the country, in October 2019. The vote was 70-1.