In campaign for a pay rise, the Crosscut union denounces the big salary of the CEO

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Unionized workers at a news website operated by Cascade Public Media in Seattle are calling attention to their CEO’s salary amid ongoing negotiations for their first contract.

In a petition launched Tuesday, Cascade’s Crosscut employees called on their supporters to support their demands for fair wages and benefits. The petition has nearly 400 signatures.

“Earlier this month, the management of Cascade Public Media came up with an insulting proposal,” the petition reads. “It did not include any increase in vacation or sick leave; a pitiful increase in our employee assistance program for mental health coverage; no change or improvement in health care coverage; and annual salary increases that do not keep pace with the rising cost of living in the Seattle area. “

The petition notes that Cascade Public Media CEO Rob Dunlop earned $ 517,490 for the fiscal year ending June 2019, according to public records. That salary, which included additional pay, was a 16% increase from the previous year and ranks among the highest paid to executives of public broadcasting stations.

Dunlop has led KCTS since 2013 and became the leader of Cascade when the organization was founded in 2015. In his first full year as CEO, Dunlop earned a total of $ 381,509 during the year. 2015.

Dunlop

The petition said management’s previous proposal for a 1% pay rise would mean an additional $ 50 per month for employees, “a paltry sum compared to Dunlop’s massive salary.”

“Between its successful fundraising campaigns and sky-high salaries, it’s clear that CPM has the funds and the ability to pay its journalists fairly. In fact, at a recent full staff meeting, we were once again reminded of our impressive financial situation, ”the petition states. “It is clear that management does not have the will, not the money. “

Kelsey Tomascheski, spokesperson for Cascade Public Media, said the organization “is engaged in ongoing and productive contractual discussions with employees represented by the PNW News Guild. All negotiations take place at the bargaining table.

Union members testified about the need to increase wages during a bargaining session on Wednesday, said Beatriz Costa Lima, video producer and bargaining unit member. The union wants wages to be competitive with those in the media such as the Seattle weather and KUOW, but management backed off.

“They say that based on market research, we are paid well and we cannot compare ourselves to Seattle weather or KUOW because they are not our competitors, which is ironic because of course the Seattle weather and KUOW are our competitors, ”said Lima. “If I said that I was going to become independent for the Seattle weather, they would have a huge stench of it because they would say it’s a competitor.

According to Lima, lawyers representing the management said Crosscut’s salaries should be compared to those of organizations like the Yakima Herald-Republic, a small newspaper based 140 miles from Seattle, due to the similar size of its newsroom. But Lima said the small newspapers don’t have as many resources as Cascade.

“I don’t live in Yakima,” Lima added. “I have to pay the Seattle prices.”

Lima said this week’s petition was sparked in part by a pair of Reddit posts from a user who claimed to be a member of Cascade Public Media. The Reddit user asked about Dunlop’s salary, then compared his pay to executives at other stations.

Dan Price, CEO of a Seattle credit card processing company that cut his pay to raise his employees’ salaries, said on twitter, “The crosscut / kcts writers are some of the best in the business and it’s awful to see you all so underpaid, especially when the CEO becomes much more. it’s the journalists who create the value here.

Crosscut employees voted to unionize in 2019 over concerns over staff turnover and wages. The union has since created several social media campaigns to promote its cause. After raising the issue last year, provisions for diversity and parental protection in the workplace were added to the contract.

Citing this week’s petition, staff members said on social media that four colleagues had left the newsroom in recent weeks due to burnout or better opportunities elsewhere.

Among them is Lilly Ana Fowler, who joined KNKX in Tacoma, Wash. Fowler, who was involved in contract negotiations with the union, told Current in an email that she left Crosscut for several reasons, adding that “salary was part of it.”

“CPM should step up and pay writers, photographers, producers and social media staff what they’re worth,” Fowler said. “Not everyone has a partner or family to rely on for financial support. By denying journalists significant increases, CPM ensures that journalism remains a playground for wealthy white elites. “

Aileen Imperial, a former video producer and bargaining unit member who left the organization last month, told Current in an email that she left CPM for several reasons, “but ultimately felt that I could no longer work for a company with an enduring management culture, underestimating its people.

She called wage inequality a “huge problem,” adding that the problem disproportionately affects women and non-white employees. “If management can work with the union and listen to the needs of its employees, I am optimistic that this company will be able to better support its newsroom staff in the future,” she said. .

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