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A group calling itself the Pineapple Street Union sent a letter to management requesting voluntary recognition, and explaining the thinking behind the union drive, on Tuesday morning. “We – the producers, editors, engineers, and staff of Pineapple Street Studios – are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. We are the people who make Pineapple’s podcasts: shows that regularly win awards, top charts, and generate revenue and partnerships for our parent company, Audacy,” the letter states. “More importantly, we make shows that entertain, inform, and move millions of people every day.”
The group is seeking to fold producers, editors, engineers and other workers into a 40-member bargaining unit at the company. According to the WGA East, about 98 percent of this group has signed union cards.
Pineapple Street Studios is perhaps best known for investigative titles including The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow, Wind of Change and Missing Richard Simmons, as well as the New York Times culture podcast Still Processing. The studio is also behind several HBO and Netflix collaborations like And Just Like That… The Writers Room, the Succession Podcast and Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Pineapple Street Studios for comment.
In their letter to management, the group of organizing workers cited Audacy’s 2019 acquisition of the company for a reported $18 million as a turning point for the staff. Business decisions that have “harm[ed] the employees” since the deal include “pandemic-related pay cuts without restitution; a lack of protections around potential economic downturn; and an inability to offer appropriate cost-of-living increases,” the group says.
The group further states that, with a union, members would like to codify diversity, equity and inclusion protections in a contract, work on benefits issues like severance and leave policies and IP rights, create more opportunity for “collective decision making,” improve company transparency and produce “guardrails against favoritism and guarantees that policies will apply to all employees equally.”
The Writers Guild East and West already represent workers at Audacy-owned WCBS, WBBM and KNX, and the WGA East in particular has been aggressively organizing the podcast space in recent years. The WGA East currently has shops at podcast production companies iHeartPodcast Network, Gimlet Media, Parcast and The Ringer, and in 2020, launched the initiative the WGA Audio Alliance to further organize high-budget scripted podcasts.
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