Podcast Workers File Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against iHeartMedia

By Chanak Maduranga

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Podcast Workers File Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against iHeartMedia

Two years into negotiations over their first union contract, podcast workers at iHeartMedia have filed an unfair labor practice charge against management over alleged intimidation and encroachment on staffers’ rights to discuss their working conditions and share union literature during break periods.

The charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, claims that iHeartMedia has violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act “by restricting protected Section 7 speech, by engaging in intimidating conduct and by interrogating employees about their support for the union” in its interactions with the iHeart Podcast Union. The iHeart Podcast Union, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East, represents around 100 producers, editors, researchers and hosts who work on titles including Stuff You Should Know, Behind the Bastards and Atlanta Monster.

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to iHeartMedia for comment.

The two sides have been negotiating a first contract since iHeartMedia voluntarily recognized the union in 2022 in a process that has gotten testy. According to a statement issued by the WGA East, in those two years management has presented “insultingly low salary and benefits proposals” while the two sides have had “disagreements over basic union provisions such as just cause and guaranteed minimum severance.”

The tension has spilled out into the public, with the union’s X account sharing on April 10 that its negotiators had waited two hours that day past a scheduled appointment for a bargaining session where they received “nonsense proposals.” A day later, the union took issue with the company renting a yacht at the Cannes Lions Festival: “Funny how a company that can afford to rent a yacht for celebrities every year ‘can’t afford’ to raise our salary minimums!” it posted on X.

The unfair labor practices charge stems from management’s alleged reaction to staffers disseminating union materials as bargaining has stretched on. The iHeart Podcast Union says it has been distributing flyers in the workplace about the negotiations and worker rights during break periods since March. Per the union, “When we have posted flyers about the union, management has removed these materials within the day, often within minutes,” including in a break room. “Union members have received emails discouraging this activity, pointing out company policies about distributing literature in working areas, without acknowledging our federally protected right to discuss our working conditions or to distribute information about our union to our colleagues,” the union continues. “Non-bargaining-unit employees and managers have used common work areas to openly disparage our union literature and efforts to inform unit members.”

The union concludes that it interprets these actions as “an attempt to push our members to capitulate to poor pay and benefits” and states that “under federal labor law, the union has a right to distribute union literature, and the company has a responsibility to treat union members respectfully as equal bargaining partners.”

According to two bargaining unit members who spoke with THR in mid-April, remaining issues on the table include establishing salary minimums and annual raises. The two parties also continue to be at odds over the union’s pursuit of a just cause provision, longer parental leave and changes to health benefits. “We’ve wanted [the deal] to be closed for over a year now,” said producer Noemi Griffin. “It’s our hope that we will continue to do our organizing and the company will come and meet us with something reasonable in the next couple of months, in the next couple of sessions that we have going on.”

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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