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let’s speak about staff taking energy again for themselves — Ask a Supervisor


There’s a major wave of unionization taking place all through public radio and tv, particularly amongst the artistic/content material staff…and admittedly I believe it’s simply horrible in each doable means.

First issues first: I imagine very strongly in worker empowerment, and usually I’m very pro-unionization. Please hold that in thoughts as I lay out my reasoning right here…

The largest downside with pubmedia unionization is that a lot of what’s executed finally ends up being very employee-dependent. No matter qualities one may ascribe to “widget making” (regardless of how expert), the skillset for pubmedia content material creation is the polar reverse of that. It requires a lot flexibility that it’s rattling close to unimaginable to actually have a set workload that’s outlined as a part of a union contract. All the opposite issues form of move from this easy difficulty, however the issues could be quantified:

These unionization efforts have executed NOTHING to repair the rampant horrible administration in pubmedia. Actually, usually they’ve made issues worse as a result of they’ve now normalized horrible managers in a structural means…making it that a lot tougher to fireside them.

It doesn’t assist that mass media is an trade full of enormous, fragile egos. To be blunt, loads of these staff are arduous as hell to handle on their greatest days. Actually union guidelines make that rather more tough. Which suggests now you’ve bought one more system in place to guard unhealthy staff, too. Which suggests one of many greatest gripes pubmedia staff have…that unhealthy staff/managers are by no means held accountable (e.g. “unhealthy cash pushing out the nice”)…stays entrenched, or is even exacerbated.

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Curiously, none of those unionization efforts appear to have executed something to stop pubmedia administration from shedding individuals willy-nilly as they see match. I do know the behind the scenes stuff on loads of pubmedia layoffs and whereas some are personality-driven, extra are philosophy-driven; a large number of older, white males have misplaced their jobs to younger, non-white, non-men within the final two or three years…and in quite a lot of circumstances, the replacements had been objectively…by even essentially the most beneficiant definition…not as competent as those that’re pushed out. And that brings me to…

In the end most pubmedia pays awful wages as a result of they don’t have the cash to pay higher. Not whereas sustaining the identical headcount. Numerous the sensible issues raised by unionization might be largely alleviated by a much bigger headcount to have extra “slack within the system”, so to talk. However these shops can’t afford extra individuals; they’ll’t even afford the workers they’ve. And like most non-profits, there’s a pervasive (and idiotic) aversion to funding any overhead. Always, overhead have to be stored as little as doable. Which means you throw cash on the content material creators and starve everybody else: growth, underwriting, grants, engineering, finance, services, database managers, I.T., and so on and so on and so on. So when the newly-unionized content material creators need extra issues that price more cash…guess the place the one place to get that cash is? You bought it: by shedding some content material creators to get cash to fund people who stay. OOPS. A lot for unionization making your life/job higher.

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Actually, if there have been one factor I may say that would unequivocally lead to higher working circumstances/pay/and so on for pubmedia staff? It will be an unbiased system or group that regulates the Board of Trustees (or regardless of the nonprofit media org calls it). It’s TERRIFYING how little oversight there may be of any of those Boards, and the way little appreciation by Board members of what the pubmedia outlet even DOES every day, a lot much less what “success” and “failure” appear to be. Dangerous boards lead to unhealthy senior administration, and unhealthy senior administration is the place a lot of the issues in pubmedia have their genesis.

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(observe: some pubmedia shops, like these owned by a College, don’t have a “Board of Trustees”. The underlying downside often stays the identical although: whomever the “Government Director” (or CEO, or Common Supervisor, or no matter title the chief of pubmedia outlet makes use of) studies to nonetheless often has little information of what the pubmedia outlet does, and even much less information of the best way to maintain that ED accountable for each the nice and unhealthy issues that occur underneath their management.)