More than 500 audio and digital content creators at National Public Radio will be covered under a new contract the radio network has agreed to with SAG-AFTRA. Members approved the agreement Sept. 30 by a vote of 324–4, and the SAG-AFTRA Washington-Mid Atlantic Local Board ratified it by a unanimous vote the same day. The parties met for a formal signing ceremony on Friday.

Once the contract is ratified by the SAG-AFTRA executive committee later in October, it will take effect retroactive to 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1.

The new deal includes 2.5% pay raises each year through 2025, provides 20 weeks of paid parental leave, and includes a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments. It covers 521 NPR audio and digital public media professionals, including hosts; correspondents; newscasters; reporters; announcers; editors; producers; research, archive and data strategists; and news app developers and designers represented by SAG-AFTRA.

Formal negotiations for a new contact, which began July 27 and wrapped Sept. 28, were held in addition to ongoing talks throughout the pandemic. Members supported the negotiations with social media posts using the tagline, “Wherever we are, we make NPR.”

Contract highlights include:

  • Twenty weeks of fully paid parental leave — up from the previous eight weeks — and 26 weeks of job protection for leave taken for the birth, adoption, foster or other placement of a child.
  • A commitment that at least 30% of external candidates interviewed for regular bargaining unit positions be from underrepresented groups that advance NPR’s diversity goals.
  • Improvements to the minimum salary system that will help ensure greater pay transparency and equity. In addition to an upcoming January 2022 general wage increase, about 150 SAG-AFTRA-covered employees will also receive a further increase as a result of these new minimums.
  • A more transparent promotions process.

"I know it will help NPR's producers, editors, reporters, hosts, newscasters and other staff do the very best work we can, while also helping NPR live up to its public service mission to the American people,” said Becky Sullivan, a reporter on NPR's NewsDesk and lead unit member of the negotiating team.

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland credited union member’s “persistence and dedication” for securing a contract that advances equity and inclusion, increased parental leave, a “more equitable” pay structure, and a commitment by NPR to pursue additional enhancements that improve work-life balance. “This deal frees them to continue to do what they do best: create high-quality programming,” he said.

NPR CEO John Lansing said the network’s relationship with its unions has been “essential” during the pandemic and that talks it had with SAG-AFTRA and NABET “helped us navigate through multiple crises these past months.”

Since joining NPR in 2019, Lansing said he has been thinking about ways to expand its support for employees. “This contract puts into print several advancements that have been on my radar for some time, including many that touch on our diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities,” Lansing said.

In addition to NPR, SAG-AFTRA represents public media pros at a growing number of outlets including NHPR Concord, NH; WAMU Washington, D.C.; Marketplace APM; WHYY Philadelphia; KPCC Pasadena, CA; KPBS San Diego; WBEZ Chicago; KUOW Seattle; Minnesota Public Radio, MPR Current and Classical; digital, per diem, temp and Gothamist employees at New York Public Radio; WBUR Boston; KCRW Santa Monica, CA; and WBGO Newark, NJ.