KBOO employees ratify first-ever contract

Employees of KBOO-FM ratified their first-ever union contract Oct. 8, locking in compensation and workplace rules for one year. The agreement was reached four months after workers voted 8-0 to join Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901 — and several days before the non-profit station’s Fall Fundraising Drive. KBOO is a non-profit community radio station governed by a board elected by members who donate or volunteer.

KBOOEmployees unionized in May after then- station manager Lynn Fitch changed personnel policies without their say-so — designating them as “at-will,” and cutting paid maternity leave to three weeks and paid sick leave to 40 hours a year. Fitch resigned in September, and a newly-elected board hired Victoria Stopiello as station manager.

The newly-ratified collective bargaining agreement mostly codifies existing employment policies into a legally binding contract, so that future managers can’t change policies unilaterally. KBOO will continue to offer employee-only health insurance, 11 paid holidays a year, and up to four weeks paid vacation, depending on seniority. If a fundraising target is met by April, the station will contribute 3 percent of payroll into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. Employees gave up one personal holiday in bargaining, and agreed to limit the accrual of comp time and vacation time. A 1.3 percent pay raise equals the amount they’ll pay in union dues. They’ll also have a formal grievance procedure, and the protection of a union contract clause which says they can’t be terminated except for “just cause.” That means they’re no longer “at will” employees who can be fired for no reason.

Elder said having a union contract brings KBOO into accord with its stated values. In its charter, KBOO lists values of “peace, justice, democracy, human rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, freedom of expression, and social change.”  KBOO’s mission is to provide programming to unserved or underserved groups, and a forum for unpopular, controversial, or neglected perspectives. The station also airs Labor Radio, Portland’s only union-themed radio program, Mondays from 6 to 6:30 p.m. KBOO can be found online at kboo.fm and on the radio at 90.7 FM in Portland, 91.9 FM in Hood River, and 104.3 FM in Corvallis.

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