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The Current, Classical MPR announce intent to unionize

They hope unionizing will lead to fair compensation, diversity of staff and more transparency.

Employees at The Current and Classical MPR have informed the company that they intend to form a union. 

According to a statement sent to BMTN Thursday, the content-creating staff at the two radio stations, owned by Minnesota Public Radio and parent company American Public Media (APM), are organizing to join SAG-AFTRA. 

More than 80% of staff, including on-air talent, producers and others, signed the two union recognition petitions, which were delivered to management on Thursday, the statement says. 

"We hope management will choose to voluntarily recognize our unions, thereby avoiding a delay in the important next step of negotiating our contracts," the statement says. 

The employees say they have their own reasons for organizing but are "united in seeking fair and equitable compensation; an actionable and measurable plan to diversify the staff of both of our stations; and consistency and transparency in employee discipline and termination. We know that we will be able to further those goals with a seat at the table as SAG-AFTRA members."

The desires of employees from The Current and Classical MPR echo similar requests MPR News employees, which already have a union, made in their campaign to transform MPR to make it more equitable and inclusive for people of color and women.

This comes after the high-profile departures of three employees – Garrett McQueen, the only Black classical host on MPR, said he was fired after not following programming guidelines. Then, longtime reporter Marianne Combs resigned her position, accusing MPR News of sitting on a story alleging misconduct by a radio DJ on The Current, which is run by MPR/APM. Fewer than 24 hours after MPR said it was "blindsided" by Combs' departure, it announced The Current's Eric Malmberg would not be back on MPR's airwaves.

Hours after MPR News made its demands to MPR/APM regarding changing the culture within the company, APM's CEO said he would resign

"We are proud to follow in the steps of other public media stations that have unionized in recent years with SAG-AFTRA, including ... our colleagues at MPR News/APM Reports," the statement says. "We’re calling on MPR and APMG to work with us through our unions to transform our workplaces into ones where everyone feels respected and valued."

In a statement to BTMN, MPR/APM said: 

"Management at Classical MPR and The Current received letters today from some employees in these departments expressing their intention to unionize under SAG-AFTRA.

"We're currently reviewing the details of these letters and are considering the requests included."

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