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A majority of iHeartMedia’s podcast network have agreed to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East, extending a recent wave of unionization efforts from digital media workers across the industry.
The iHeartPodcast Network’s bargaining committee has about 125 members, according to the WGA East, and is calling on executives at iHeartMedia to voluntarily recognize and negotiate with the union. In a letter to management, the podcast employees — which include podcast hosts, producers, editors, researchers and writers — pointed to concerns with compensation and a lack of transparency in “workplace decision making” and “initiatives toward diversity and inclusion.”
“We have been encouraged to embrace the dynamism of start-up culture without any of the associated benefits,” the employees wrote in the letter. “Due to these working conditions, the creators of iHeart’s podcasts have banded together in order to help determine the best path forward so that iHeart can remain competitive, retain existing talent, and attract new voices to the network, all while creating a more equitable, transparent, and democratic workplace.”
A representative for iHeartMedia declined to comment.
The iHeartPodcast network includes dozens of popular series like Stuff You Should Know; Fake Doctors, Real Friends, hosted by Zach Braff and Donald Faison; Life Will be the Death of Me, hosted by Chelsea Handler; The Laverne Cox Show and Minnie Questions, hosted by Minnie Driver.
The iHeartMedia podcasters will be joining other podcast companies unionized with WGAE, including Gimlet Media, The Ringer and Parcast. The three Spotify-owned companies were voluntarily recognized, and Gimlet and The Ringer ratified their collective bargaining agreement in April.
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