Staff members at Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting sister radio stations WESA and WYEP have filed a petition to unionize with the support of national media representatives SAG-AFTRA.
According to a press release, "a supermajority of eligible staff" signed the petition and delivered it to management this morning. The bargaining unit includes, according to the release, "hosts and disc jockeys, reporters,
editors, producers, and others."
Emails obtained by Pittsburgh City Paper appear to show at least 24 staffers across the two stations have expressed interest in joining the union. According to PCB's website, the organization employs 33 regular staff in addition to a senior leadership team of 16. It's not immediately clear which employees will be eligible to join the union.
Rosemary Welsch, host of WYEP's Afternoon Mix, tells City Paper the push to unionize was driven by a need felt by staff at both stations to have greater say in leadership decisions, and for more "transparency," so that "everybody understands exactly where the direction of the organization is going and every has a chance to speak up.”
Having worked for the company since 1981, initially as a volunteer, she says she's surprised by how often she and other senior colleagues are left in the dark.
Welsch also says the company struggles to retain content-producing talent at its current payscale, and says unionizing would ultimately strengthen the organization.
"I hope that they’re going to recognize that this is something that’s good for the whole organization," Welsch says. "This is not against anything, it is for something."
Kevin Gavin, who hosts WESA's The Confluence, echoed similar themes in a press release, noting, "we as a group of journalists have so much more to offer to our listeners as well as PCBC, and a union will provide us with the professional security to help accomplish our mission."
"I invite PCBC management to invest in the content creators, the journalists, whom our listeners and members rely on, so we can continue to make a difference.”
Terry O'Reilly, PCB president and CEO, and Courtnae Turko, vice president of human resources, did not immediately respond to emails sent shortly before the news went public at 9 a.m.
Soon after the news broke, union organizers publicized a Pittsburgh Public Radio Union twitter account, making known their demands, posting "We are the journalists and content creators who make @905WESA and @WYEP."
Among the retweets was a post of support from KDKA-TV producers who organized with SAG-AFTRA in 2021. "Pittsburgh: It's a union town," posted KDKA organizers. "Welcome @pghpublicradio!! You've got our support!"
PCB is just the latest media organization to request unionization, after WPXI news producers announced an intention to join SAG-AFTRA in February 2022.
PCB's executive and finance committees are scheduled to meet Thu., Aug. 31.
Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting was founded in 1972 and began airing its flagship WYEP programming two years later, relying initially on an entire team of volunteers. In 2011, the organization acquired WDUQ, a public radio station housed at Duquesne University, and later rebranded it as WESA the following year. WESA functions as a National Public Radio affiliate for the Pittsburgh region.