AFTRA Members Announce ‘Day of Reckoning’ Rally for WEEK/WHOI-TV in Central Illinois

AFTRA Members Announce ‘Day of Reckoning’ Rally for WEEK/WHOI-TV in Central Illinois

Community Rally to be Held on Friday, July 15

Peoria, Ill. (July 12, 2011) -- Members of the Peoria Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70, 000 broadcast professionals, recording artists and performers – have announced that on Friday, July 15 they will hold a 'Day of Reckoning' rally for WEEK/WHOI-TV. AFTRA members are inviting community and business allies, including local labor, civic and religious leaders to join them for the rally.

The rally will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the United Auto Workers Local 974 located at 3025 Springfield Road, East Peoria, next to the WEEK/WHOI-TV station headquarters.

The news team at WEEK/WHOI-TV, who are members of AFTRA, plan to protest the company’s recent announcement that it will impose its “last, best and final” proposal to employees, despite repeated offers by AFTRA negotiators to return to the negotiating table.

AFTRA members began contract negotiations with station owners in November 2010. The negotiations stalled on Feb. 18, despite months of good faith bargaining and offers of compromise by AFTRA members to many of the corporation’s proposals. Since then, AFTRA members have continued to work without a contract, and now the station’s owners have informed workers they plan to unilaterally impose the new terms on July 16.

The corporation’s move to “impose” its proposals on the WEEK/WHOI-TV news team would subject the employees to a number of substandard working conditions that threaten to damage the station’s ability to deliver local news to the Central Illinois community.
"The corporate negotiators’ proposals, if imposed, would open the door to have the local news outsourced some 300 miles away to Fort Wayne, Ind., allow non-professionals to do our work and include a host of other takeaways. The corporation’s terms seriously compromise our ability to do our jobs well, and undermine the commitment that the WEEK/WHOI-TV AFTRA members have made to provide our viewers in Central Illinois with the quality local news they deserve," said Garry Moore, AFTRA Peoria Local President.

Moore continued: "The corporation’s decision to impose is revealing: Silver Point Capital, which owns Granite Broadcasting, is a private investment firm based in Greenwich, Conn., and it is investing in a posh $4 billion casino in Macau, China. Clearly, this is a corporation that is more concerned about its investments in China than providing our families, friends and community with quality news from the names and faces they know and trust. Imposing this contract is an insult to the community, and we are calling for their support to make July 15 a ‘Day of Reckoning’ for Silver Point Capital and Granite Broadcasting."

In addition to Granite Broadcasting, which operates stations in local markets around the country, Silver Point Capital has holdings in various industries in the United States. In 2005, Silver Point acquired a controlling interest in FiberMark, an upstate New York company. Shortly after Silver Point took over the operations of FiberMark, the firm implemented devastating changes for the workforce, including cutting wages and benefits for working families. A few years later, Silver Point Capital sold FiberMark for a profit. The firm also has an account, through Silver Point Capital Offshore Fund, in the Cayman Islands and offices in the United Kingdom.

AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon praised local union members and encouraged their community allies to continue standing united. She said: “July 15 is an important and emblematic date in our labor struggle in Central Illinois. All across the nation, union workers, our families and our communities are being stripped of our rights: we are under attack from corporate interests that have nothing to do with enriching American culture and informing our citizens, and everything to do with increasing payouts and bonuses to company executives. I salute the AFTRA employees at WEEK/WHOI-TV and the members of the AFTRA Peoria Local for their courage and their resolve, and I applaud their local community members for standing up for their right to receive quality local news.”

A recent petition drive garnered more than 2,700 signatures from area residents in support of the 30 AFTRA employees at WEEK/WHOI-TV who provide professional, quality local news and weather in Central Illinois.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.