Brooklyn, NY - A large group of non-managerial staff at StoryCorps is calling on management to voluntarily recognize their union, indicating that they have a majority who wish to unionize with Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1180. The workers cited a commitment to StoryCorps’ mission to promote humanity’s stories for a just and compassionate world, and the need for equitable wages, job security, better benefits, and clarity and transparency around organizational changes.
Management at StoryCorps has not agreed to voluntary recognition, unlike many of their industry peers such as Democracy Now and Amnesty International. Instead, they pushed the staff into a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, and have been running an active anti-union campaign. Since refusing the request for recognition, management punctuated an all staff summit with denunciations about the union, held mandatory anti-union meetings, and used a union-busting lawyer to dispute the workers’ petition to join CWA in front of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees have had to go to court to defend under testimony their work and value to the organization. Meanwhile, management distributed multiple anti-union emails to staff, labeling the union a third party and threatening not to make any changes through bargaining.
When employees attempted to represent their perspectives during these anti-union meetings, StoryCorps management refused to engage in dialogue, despite dialogue being the signature trademark of the organization. Justin Williams, Facilitator at StoryCorps, explained, “During these meetings, management made clear that they didn’t want us to have an equal voice to define the issues. That not only contradicts the principle of dialogue that StoryCorps embodies, but is symbolic of the power dynamics we are unionizing to correct.”
“We’re committed to making StoryCorps the best it can be. We believe in uplifting everyday stories, and hope management calls off the union busting so we can come to the bargaining table and address our concerns together,” said Alletta Cooper, Production Assistant at StoryCorps.
The employees on the front-lines, the ones that make it possible for hundreds of thousands of Americans to record and preserve the stories of their lives, are looking for dignity and respect on the job. Many are paid below market wages for their hard work, with the CEO making nearly five times the amount of some of the lowest paid employees. StoryCorps is a household name, most famous for its broadcast segment during NPR’s Morning Edition. At the grand opening of the first recording booth in Grand Central Terminal, the famous oral historian Studs Terkel, a mentor to StoryCorps and lifelong labor activist,implored the public listen to the stories of the workers -- "to celebrate the uncelebrated."
< http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4967712> Haley Shaffer, Senior Associate in Custom Services, says, “As the workers who keep the mission of StoryCorps alive, we’re just looking for recognition and respect for the important and influential work we do.”
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