NPR is in ongoing contract negotiations with the labor union that represents many journalists at the public radio network, according to representatives from both sides.
The negotiations, which are being conducted with the Los Angeles-based SAG-AFTRA union, seek to create "a contract that meets the needs of NPR’s employees and our operations," according to a statement sent to Poynter on Wednesday by Isabel Lara, NPR’s senior director of media relations. The ultimate goal of the negotiations is to make the organization "more economically sustainable for the long-term," according to NPR’s statement.
The negotiation comes at a time of transition for NPR. The public broadcaster is beginning to implement a plan that would see its more than 900 member stations structured around regional hubs.
Pamela Greenwalt, chief communications and marketing officer at SAG-AFTRA, declined to comment but confirmed there were ongoing negotiations.
SAG-AFTRA represents about 160,000 media workers in the United States, including broadcast journalists, news writers and editors, according to its website. In July 2015, union members at NPR approved a two-year contract that included two 2.5 percent pay raises in January 2016 and 2017, according to a SAG-AFTRA press release. The agreement covered 400 NPR employees represented by the union and came after journalists flooded Twitter with photos and descriptions of their jobs with #WeMakeNPR.
The new negotiations also come amid a flurry of tweets this week from NPR employees using both #WeMakeNPR and #ShowYourCard. According to several tweets, employees in the Washington, D.C. bureau organized a solidarity march Wednesday, during which they walked through the headquarters with blue and white balloons and signs that read "We make NPR." Some journalists also changed their Twitter profile photos to the slogan.
— Steve Mullis (@stevemullis) June 28, 2017
Here is the full statement from NPR about the contract negotiations:
NPR is engaged in constructive, forward-looking negotiations with SAG-AFTRA for a contract that meets the needs of NPR’s employees and our operations. NPR wants to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement that will make this organization more economically sustainable for the long-term – and, importantly, enable NPR to invest more resources in expanding audiences, innovating its multi-platform journalism, and adding newsroom staff to meet that growth, and support current staff.
Here are some of the tweets leading up to and during Wednesday's solidarity march: