Journalists at Minnesota Public Radio have voted to unionize.

The St. Paul-based company’s reporters and editors decided to join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Marlin Osthus, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, said Friday.

“We are excited about embarking on this new partnership with MPR management,” Marty Moylan, a reporter for MPR News, said in a statement. “We look forward to having a seat at the table and to starting our negotiations.”

The new bargaining unit will cover workers who create content for MPR News, American Radio Works and the newly formed Investigative Unit.

Out of the nearly 80 eligible voters, 39 voted in favor and 17 voted against, according to a tally made on Thursday. There were 18 other people whose votes were challenged by the company, which argued that they were supervisors and therefore ineligible to vote under the National Labor Relations Act. Even if those challenged votes were counted, the proposal still would have passed with a majority in favor, Osthus said. “Had those votes, those 18, mattered in terms of the outcome, we would have had to investigate,” he said.

The firm and the union will have to come to an agreement about whether those 18 people can be union members, or they can petition local Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board to make a determination, Osthus said.

The company has until June 9 to file an objection if it believes the union engaged in conduct during the campaign that interfered with the election. If no objections are filed, Region 18 will issue a certification that the union represents the employees and the parties can start negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, Osthus said.

“As a result of the vote, we will now follow the process to begin good-faith bargaining with SAG-AFTRA for an agreement,” MPR spokeswoman Angie Andresen said in an e-mail. “We all have the shared goal of providing the highest quality programming and delivering superior public service for our audiences. That’s what we’re all focused on at this point.”

SAG-AFTRA has more than 160,000 members, including actors, dancers, news writers, recording artists and other media professionals.

“I want to congratulate the working journalists and media professionals at Minnesota Public Radio on their decision to join SAG-AFTRA,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement. “As they continue to do their excellent work, they will now be able to negotiate with their employer the compensation terms and workplace protections shared by thousands of our news industry members across the country.”

MPR is the latest public media organization at which employees voted to join SAG-AFTRA. Employees at KPCC-Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena, KPBS-San Diego Public Radio and TV, and WBEZ-Chicago Public Radio have also voted to join the union. SAG-AFTRA also represents public media professionals at National Public Radio, KQED in San Francisco, WNYC in New York and other stations.


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