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Workers organizing a union at the iHeartPodcast Network have secured voluntary recognition from management after what the group said was “weeks of negotiation.”
The voluntary recognition came after an independent union card check demonstrated that “an overwhelming majority of employees in the bargaining unit signed union cards” to be represented by the Writers Guild of America East, the union said on Thursday. The bargaining unit, comprised of 110 people, includes writers, producers, editors and other people in storytelling roles who are based in Atlanta, L.A. and New York. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to iHeartPodcast Network for comment.
“We’re incredibly excited to win official union recognition and secure our seat at the table to bargain for appropriate wages and benefits, accountability mechanisms, and other long-standing issues for our colleagues and ourselves,” the iHeartPodcast Network Organizing Committee said in a statement. “We now look forward to engaging in good-faith negotiations with the company, and are confident that this process will ensure the continued success and stability of the podcast industry.”
The organizing committee mentioned that the iHeart union follows those developed at other podcast companies and similarly allied with the WGA East, including Gimlet, Parcast and The Ringer. “We endeavor to improve the working conditions for all in our industry,” the committee said.
The group first announced they were intending to unionize with the WGA East in early December, when they also asked management to voluntarily recognize the union then. Top priorities for the union are raising wages and benefits to what members believe is a higher “industry standard,” instituting accountability for DEI initiatives, vetting the amount of employees on shows and their workloads, standardizing role descriptions and facilitating job growth opportunities and job security.
In testimonials shared to the iHeartPodcast Network union’s Twitter page, members discussed feeling like they couldn’t share their opinions or get questions answered in a satisfying way, while one claimed employees do not receive individual performance reviews and another said management did not respond to their concerns about their mental health on a particular project.
The union will now begin negotiating on a first contract. In 2021, Gimlet Union and Ringer Union members ratified their first contracts over a year after they both won voluntary recognition from management. The Parcast Union won voluntary recognition in 2020 but the union and management have yet to agree on a contract.
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