Seattle may be known, in part, for its famously cloudy skies, but there was no raining on the parade of the Local 600 members at KIRO-TV following a contract victory that was two years in the making.
The newly signed, three-year deal with Cox Media Group covers 17 Local 600 news photojournalists at the Seattle-based KIRO. After working under an expired contract under difficult conditions since the start of the COVID pandemic, the KIRO team can now start to enjoy some important additions and concessions from their employer.
“It was a huge group effort,” Damien Glitch, a photojournalist and Local 600 steward at KIRO said of the negotiations. “The members of the bargaining team had a really good blend of personalities, and we were able to work together to make this happen.”
“From the very beginning, this group of people was united in what they wanted. I think they got at least five of the six things they said they wanted,” added Local 600 Western Region Business Representative Raquel Ruiz. “You can accomplish a lot when you have folks that are dedicated to wanting a fair contract. These folks were.”
Some of the 17 KIRO members have worked at KIRO for barely a month while others are 35-year veterans at the station. In preparation of negotiations, the KIRO staffers banded together with acts of solidarity. They wore their newly-made Local 600 hats and stickers and collectively decided not to sign up for extra shifts, potentially putting a damper on station scheduling. With a contract extension in place and what they considered to be an unacceptable offer on the table, the bargaining team took additional aggressive action before mediation was set to begin.
Jim Waltz, Damien Glitch, Peter Frerichs
“I think that action lit a fire underneath everybody,” said Ruiz. “Everything changed after that, and we were able to get a fair deal.”
Key provisions of the new contract include a year one wage increase, station-wide bonuses to cover backpay, and improved time off provisions during sweeps periods. When it comes to considering future raises, the union can reopen contract discussions and reserves the right to strike.
“Getting some form of backpay in the form of a bonus was huge,” said Glitch who credits the work of fellow bargaining team members Kelly Daviscourt, Peter Frerichs and Jim Waltz.
Sunny Shields, a steward at WDIV in Detroit and a member of the Local 600 National Executive Board, said that the KIRO victory signaled a hopeful future for union members at other news outlets across the country.
“KIRO employees hadn’t had a raise in three years,” said Shields. “We won, and I’m very happy.”
Damien Glitch, Peter Frerichs, David Thompson, Mike Griffith, Bill Skok, Michelle Boehler