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SAG-AFTRA and New York Public Radio have settled a labor brawl over mass layoffs and alleged surveillance in which the union claimed that NYPR launched an aggressive and coordinated campaign to undermine union activity.
The deal, announced on Friday, includes a one-time three percent wage increase in July for all union employees making under $100,000 per year, enhancements to NYPR’s parental leave policy and an extension of employment protections against retaliation. It also resolves a host of claims regarding personnel issues relating to individual staff members.
“Both parties look forward to working together to continue to resolve workplace matters cooperatively, and to serving our audiences across the region and around the world with trusted news, classical music and cultural programming, and the New York conversation,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The labor fight has been escalating for months, culminating in a complaint filed to the National Labor Relations Board in May over unfair labor practices. The union alleged that the station and WNYC editor in chief Audrey Cooper have been surveilling and “providing the impression of surveillance” of union activity. According to the complaint, NYPR launched a “coordinated and aggressive campaign to undermine union and protected concerted activity,” decrying the station’s retaliatory termination of a shop steward for engaging in union activities.
The activity centered around concerns of transparency, retaliation and diversity. The union claimed that the media organization ignored the collective bargaining agreement and issued disciplines, warning and threats to employees.
“People are being surveilled, censored, interrogated, & disciplined for speaking up,” the union said in a May tweet. “Discussing working conditions is our right, and many members feel like they could be next if they do speak up.”
The complaint was filed less than a month after NYPR, owner of WNYC, the Gothamist and several other media properties, laid off 14 employees citing financial trouble caused by the pandemic. The union in June took NYPR to federal court in New York over the terminations, arguing the media group violated the collective bargaining agreement.
“This action arises from NYPR’s refusal to arbitrate grievances filed by SAG-AFTRA, including a grievance concerning NYPR’s failure to provide 18-year WNYC reporter Fred Mogul with contractually required severance payments after wrongfully discharging Mogul without cause,” reads the complaint. “NYPR has wholly abrogated and refused to abide by the parties’ contractual grievance process.”
NYPR maintained in the case that the disputed issues aren’t subject to arbitration.
The global settlement resolves the complaint filed to the NLRB and the federal lawsuit. Both sides on Friday moved to dismiss the case in federal court.
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