Union workers at the iHeartPodcast Network have been voluntarily recognized by management after what the group say “Weeks of negotiations.”
The voluntary recognition came after an independent union card check demonstrated that “a majority of the staff in the bargaining unit signed a union card” represented by the Eastern American Writers’ Association, the union said on Thursday. The bargaining unit, which includes 110 people, including writers, producers, editors, and others in narrative roles, is based in Atlanta, LA and New York. The Hollywood Reporter reached out to the iHeartPodcast Network for comment.
The organizers of the iHeartPodcast network said: “We are extremely pleased to have won official union recognition and secured our seat at the negotiating table for the right salary and benefits, mechanism. accountability and other longstanding issues for our colleagues and ourselves,” the iHeartPodcast network organizers said in a statement. “We now look forward to entering into good faith negotiations with the company and are confident that this process will ensure the continued success and stability of the podcast industry.”
The organizers mentioned that the iHeart alliance follows other podcast development companies and similarly is the alliance with WGA East, including Gimlet, Parcast, and The Ringer. “We work to improve working conditions for everyone in our industry,” the commission said.
The group announced for the first time that they intend to merge with WGA East in early december, when they also asked the management to voluntarily recognize the union afterwards. The union’s top priorities are increasing wages and benefits for what members believe are higher “industry standards”, establishing accountability for DEI initiatives, checking employee numbers employees participate in their programs and workloads, standardize role descriptions, and facilitate job development and job security opportunities.
In testimonials shared on the iHeartPodcast Network union’s Twitter page, members discussed feeling like they weren’t able to share their opinions or weren’t able to answer questions in a satisfying way, while one claimed that employees did not receive individual performance reviews and another said management did not respond to their mental health concerns on a particular project.
The union will now begin negotiations on the first contract. In 2021, members of Gimlet Union and Ringer Union ratified their first contracts in more than a year after they both won voluntary recognition from management. The Parcast Alliance won voluntary accreditation in 2020 but the union and management have yet to agree on a contract.