It was October 2019 when staff at news/talk WHYY Philadelphia (90.9) and WHYY-TV overwhelmingly voted to join SAG-AFTRA. Now, nearly two years later, union members have voted to approve their first-ever SAG-AFTRA contract.

The WHYY bargaining unit consists of public media professionals who create content for all areas of the station, including radio, television and digital. The unit won its union election 70 to 1 in Oct. 30, 2019, and has been bargaining for a fair contract ever since, aside from a brief pause due to the pandemic.

“After a long negotiation process, SAG-AFTRA members finally have a solid first agreement with WHYY that implements vital benefits and pay increases,” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a release. “I congratulate our negotiating team as well as our amazing WHYY members on their new contract.”

Contract highlights include: A 5% plus wage increase for more than half the unit; Guaranteed wage increases each year of the contract; Six weeks of paid parental leave; Flexible work options; Guaranteed comp time; Wage scales and mobility to protect from attrition and equity within job titles.

“The wage structures we’ve set up in this contract create a path forward where one never existed before,” Shop Steward Nina Feldman added. “We’re proud to guarantee some mobility for our colleagues and future employees alike, ensuring that WHYY can become a sustainable place to build a career.”

WHYY joins a growing list of public media outlets that have joined SAG-AFTRA.

In August, New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), which is an NPR network based in Concord, NH, voted in approval of an intent to unionize. In December 2020, Minnesota Public Radio “Classical MPR” KSJN (99.5) and adult alternative “The Current” KCMP (89.3) Minneapolis also voted in favor of joining the union. The staff of MPR News joined SAG-AFTRA in June 2016. Others that have recently decided to have SAG-AFTRA representation include, WAMU Washington (88.5) and WBGO Newark, NJ (88.3). In addition, Santa Monica College’s KCRW Los Angeles recently reached a tentative agreement on its first union contract, as did Boston University news/talk WBUR-FM (90.9). Still other public media outlets that have recently unionized include KPCC Pasadena (89.3); Chicago Public Media WBEZ Chicago (91.5); KUOW-AM/FM Seattle; KNKX Seattle; KQED San Francisco; WNYC New York; and media professionals at NPR.