10/20/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/20/2022 11:57

NEW DATE! KUOW Journalists to Picket for Livable Wages

Due to poor air quality caused by wildfires in the Seattle area, the informational picket organized by KUOW's unionized staff has been rescheduled to Monday, Oct. 24.

KUOW's unionized staff, including the familiar voices that bring you the news, will hold an informational picket Mon. Oct. 24, outside the KUOW studios. The SAG-AFTRA members are picketing to highlight the need for livable wages for all positions at KUOW.

WHAT: KUOW journalists picket for livable wages
WHERE: Outside 4518 University Way NE in Seattle's University District
WHEN: Monday, Oct. 24, 12:30-1:30 p.m. PT

The journalists who work at KUOW believe in the mission of public media and have dedicated their lives to it, but that can't come at the cost of not being able to afford to live in the communities they cover.

KUOW is a well-funded institution with roughly $21 million in annual revenue, yet most KUOW journalists currently qualify for low-income housing in the city of Seattle. Under the last minimum salary offer from management, half of the journalists would still qualify for low-income housing as a one-person household and three-quarters would still qualify as a two-person household.

"This is a disgrace at a beloved station in a wealthy city," said KUOW senior reporter and union steward John Ryan.

While Seattle-area rents skyrocket and record inflation pushes the cost of living ever higher, wages for KUOW journalists, producers, announcers and many other unionized staff have stagnated, forcing staff to leave for other markets or professions.

Fair pay is also the missing link in KUOW's push to have a diverse and equitable workplace.

"Public radio in Seattle cannot be a profession reserved for people with a trust fund or wealthy spouse," said KUOW host and SAG-AFTRA member Libby Denkmann. "We believe in the vital role of local public radio. We also believe in fair wages for the skilled professionals who make it possible."

Raising the wage floor for KUOW producers, reporters, engineers, announcers and hosts has been the top priority for union negotiators. Unfortunately, KUOW management and the University of Washington have not budged beyond a nominal increase in minimum salaries across the board, even for the lowest-paid members of the unit, and a 3% yearly raise that effectively means a pay cut for workers hit hard by inflation.

After abruptly cutting off negotiations in June, and three months after the contract expired, management came to the mediation table on Oct.12 with no new wage proposals.

KUOW Public Radio is a nonprofit, self-sustaining service of the University of Washington. KUOW management and University of Washington labor relations participate in labor negotiations.