Striking broadcast technicians reach tentative settlement with WTTW

Employees on strike at WTTW (Photo: Local 1220 IBEW)

Striking broadcast technicians at WTTW-Channel 11 reached a tentative contract agreement with management Wednesday, likely ending the three-week work stoppage at the public television station.

Local Union 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing more than two dozen technicians, graphic artists and floor crew members, is expected to announce results of a ratification vote Thursday.

If the contract is approved, workers could be back on the job by Friday.

Union members have been on strike since March 16 when they walked out over proposed changes in work jurisdiction and job protection. Contract negotiations had been underway since May 2021.

“It’s not great, but it is fair,” John Rizzo, business manager of Local 1220, said of the settlement. “In the end we’ve achieved a much better contract than where we began. We’re recommending that this is the best deal [our members] are going to get from the company.”

Rizzo credited Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other Democratic leaders with supporting the union, honoring the picket line and pressuring management to reach an agreement. “All of the political support has been wonderful, especially from the mayor’s office,” Rizzo said. “Without it, I think we’d still be on strike.”

A WTTW representative provided the following comment Thursday morning:

“WTTW is pleased that we have reached tentative agreement with the IBEW Local 1220 bargaining team. We look forward to welcoming our IBEW colleagues back to work as soon as possible.  

“A critical point about the strike was incorrectly stated [in an earlier version of] this story. WTTW did not choose to terminate striking employees’ group health insurance effective April 1.  

“The terms of the policy with our health insurance provider mandate that employees not working the minimum number of hours shift to COBRA. Because of the short duration of the period when IBEW employees were not working the minimum number of hours, these employees will be immediately eligible for health insurance coverage and other benefits upon return to work and will be reimbursed for any COBRA payments made.  

“We would appreciate you updating the story with these facts. Throughout this negotiation, we placed the highest priority on negotiating in good faith, taking care of our employees, and ensuring that all information is factual. Thank you for helping us get the facts out to your readers. We will keep you apprised when the agreement is finalized.  

“We are pleased that our employees may be back on the job with us as early as Friday working toward our mission to provide trusted, high quality public media for our community.”

Local 1220 has represented employees at WTTW since 1955. This marked the first strike at the station.

Window to the World Communications is the nonprofit parent company of WTTW and classical music WFMT 98.7-FM.