Newly unionized workers at Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV) are calling on the public access TV center to bargain with them "in good faith" on their first contract.
"A union contract will mean fair treatment and fair wages for all workers at CAN TV. It will put an end to poverty wages, pay inequality and disrespect in the workplace," CAN TV operations coordinator Jannelle White said in a statement. She is among the workers who voted in August for union representation by CWA-NABET Local 41.
The workers are also demanding that CAN TV stop alleged "retaliatory actions against members of the bargaining unit."
CWA-NABET Local 41 filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against the station Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board.
Specifically, "the ULP lists five charges, one each for five members of the bargaining unit who have been disciplined or treated differently than other workers, including for protected concerted union activity," reads a statement released this afternoon from Arise Chicago, which has supported CAN TV workers in their effort to unionize.
CAN TV Executive Director Barbara Popovic said she could not comment about the ULP filing, because she has not yet seen it.
"I can say emphatically, though, that retaliatory actions are not underway here and that we are committed, as I'm sure the workers are, to seeing CAN TV continue its service to the public," she said.
As for contract negotiations, which officially started in December, Popovic said they have been "going well" thus far.
"We're making, I think, a lot of progress," she said. "This is the first time for CAN TV, certainly for the workers and for management, so given that, and how long these things can take, I think it's been progressing well. Certainly, our board and management have made it clear from the start that our intention is to do this in good faith, and we certainly do intend to do that, have been doing it, and really are very eager, as I'm sure the workers are, to get a contract."
According to a news release from Arise Chicago, bargaining unit members also sent a letter to CAN TV management today, asking them to address the four following issues:
That the two suspensions of CAN TV employees be rescinded, stricken from their personnel files, and the wages that they lost during their suspensions paid to them.
That CAN TV cease and desist any surveillance and any other methods intended to prevent free and open interaction/communication between members of the bargaining unit.
That CAN TV bargain in good faith the economic terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
That CAN TV honors the Steward's authority to mediate issues between management and staff as well as investigate the issues of the bargaining unit.
Popovic declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding the two alleged worker suspensions mentioned in the letter, citing employee privacy concerns.
She did say that she's encouraged by the progress being made at the negotiating table.
"Our goal is to have that continue so we get a contract," Popovic said.
UPDATE (7:03 p.m.): Arise Chicago tells Progress Illinois that the ULP filing was updated today to include a total of 12 charges. The charges, according to the filing, claim that CAN TV "has been interfering with and restraining employees in the exercise of protected Section 7 rights; has discriminated against employees based on union animus; has discriminated against employees in retaliation for having testified at an NLRB hearing; and has engaged in bad faith bargaining."