Nearly 300 NPR on-air journalists and producers met Friday and voted to ask the SAG-AFTRA national board of directors to approve a strike authorization referendum be sent to the NPR workers if the negotiators deem it necessary, the union said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
The move takes the union one step closer to a strike that would idle about 430 NPR workers. The fact that three-quarters of the bargaining unit attended the meeting appears to reflect a high degree of concern among NPR staff. SAG-AFTRA contends that management is trying to disempower the union altogether by demanding rollbacks, instituting a two-tier salary system and eliminating the union’s ability to enforce various contract clauses through arbitration.
The existing contract expired June 30 but was extended until Friday night. It’s been extended a further 24 hours and talks are continuing, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson told THR Saturday morning.
The union’s national board is meeting Saturday and is expected to take up the NPR workers’ request — most likely the board will vote in favor — as well as to endorse the recently negotiated TV/theatrical deal with Hollywood studios and send it to the membership as a whole.
A strike authorization vote is not itself a vote to strike, but would up the ante and be a further move in the direction of a walkout.
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