Broadcast technicians and other employees at WTTW-Channel 11 went on strike Wednesday at the Window to the World Communications public television station shortly before the start of the nightly news program “Chicago Tonight.”
Local Union 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing more than two dozen technicians, graphic artists and floor crew members, announced the walkout at 6 p.m.
WTTW aired a “Best of Chicago Tonight” rerun in place of a live broadcast at 7 p.m.
At issue, according to the union, are changes proposed in work jurisdiction and job protection. Contract negotiations have been ongoing since May 2021.
“It saddens me that the employer has forced us to take such a drastic action, but our hard-working union members are not willing to bargain away their futures at any cost,” John Rizzo, business manager of Local 1220, said in statement.
“The sisters and brothers at Channel 11 deserve a fair and respectable contract that protects their livelihoods and their families. That’s worth fighting for. It’s about jobs.”
A WTTW representative confirmed the decision by IBEW union members to strike and released the following statement:
“WTTW is committed to serving the public and our community – with trusted, independent local news, documentary storytelling, high-quality entertainment, and educational programming for the very youngest members of our community – with our IBEW union members now and into the future.
“We work in a rapidly changing industry. Bringing our IBEW contract up to date – to ensure that it is comparable with other media contracts across the city and country – is imperative, will allow us to use current and future technology, and will protect jobs.
“The terms we have proposed in our latest contract offer, which include a highly competitive wage and benefits package, will serve IBEW members, WTTW as an organization, and ultimately the people in our community.
“Through this important process, we believe we can come together and compromise on mutually beneficial terms.”
Local 1220 has represented employees at WTTW since 1955. This marks the first time the union has called a strike at the station.
Window to the World Communications is the nonprofit parent company of WTTW and classical music WFMT 98.7-FM.