WTTW technician strike ends

Agreement reached Wednesday night after three weeks on the picket line

A strike called by IBEW 1220 against Chicago public television station WTTW has come to an end. 

As first reported by Robert Feder Wednesday evening, the union came to terms with the PBS station on a new deal lasting until July 2025 containing “fair economic gains”, covering camera operators, graphic artists, and floor crew who worked at WTTW. The pact was ratified Thursday and the workers went back on the job Friday. 

The new deal includes a pay raise, and the health insurance they lost during the strike is being reinstated as any premiums they paid through COBRA will be reimbursed. 

IBEW 220 members walked off the job for the first time in WTTW’s history three weeks ago on March 16, mainly over reassigning some union jobs to non- union personnel. Political leaders joined in and showed support for the striking IBEW workers, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Teachers Union’s Jesse Sharkey. 

The strike had an enormous impact on WTTW’s flagship news show Chicago Tonight as the nightly public affairs show was reduced to a half-hour from its usual hour length and often suffered from numerous technical difficulties.  For example, the April 1 edition of Chicago Tonight: The Week In Review saw the video feed pixelate and drop out at times, even for cable and satellite viewers. The strike also meant they were unable to recruit guests for the show as the Illinois Democratic Party urged their members not to appear. 

Had the strike continued, the station’s donations could’ve taken a hit as they make up a significant amount of the non-profit’s revenues. For WTTW, they ought to be grateful the strike didn’t take place during a pledge period. 

 

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