EAST PEORIA – A group of Bloomington-Normal residents carpooled to East Peoria Friday evening to demonstrate in solidarity with AFTRA broadcast workers who are in a labor struggle with their corporate management at WEEK/WHOI-TV.
Collective bargaining negotiations between the WEEK/WHOI workers and management stalled in February around the issue of outsourcing of local news to out-of-state newsrooms and other take-aways that adversely affect working conditions. Workers have been without a contract since then, and now management intends to impose its “last, best and final” offer.
Garry Moore, president of the AFTRA Peoria local, led the rally in front of the UAW Local 974 hall, down the road from the WEEK/WHOI building. Moore and other rally speakers argued that news reporting in Peoria will suffer with outsourcing to out-of-state newsrooms, and that the control of the media will be further consolidated under corporate control.
WEEK/WHOI is owned by Granite Broadcasting, which is in turn owned by Silver Point, a private investment firm worth billions of dollars. Silver Point is an international firm, owning a variety of companies in different industries around the world and with accounts in the Cayman Islands. It has a history of imposing harsh conditions on workers. In one case, after imposing devastating workplace changes at Fibermark, a company in New York, it sold the company a few years later at a profit.
Mike Matejka, a labor leader from Bloomington-Normal, Illinois spoke at the rally of the importance of community solidarity with workers fighting for local control of the news. There were people at the rally representing numerous unions and community organizations from all over central Illinois.
At the very end of the rally, Garry Moore detailed AFTRA’s plans to bring management back to the bargaining table. He outlined a twitter campaign, which is designed to show community support for the WEEK/WHOI workers to Granite Broadcasting and public officials. Moore also talked of the union’s filing a complaint with the National Labor Review Board, as well as the possibility of a campaign to pull advertisers from the station.
The rally concluded with a march to the WEEK/WHOI-TV station. Below can be found resources from AFTRA and following that is a video of highlights from the ‘Day of Reckoning’ march and rally.
Twitter Campaign – http://www.aftra.com/savelocalnews.htm
AFTRA Members Announce Day of Reckoning Rally for WEEK/WHOI in Central Illinois (AFTRA website)
AFTRA Launches Twitter Campaign to ‘Save Local News’ in Central Illinois (AFTRA website)
AFTRA Peoria Facebook Page
Longer, more comprehensive video of event —