WTTW, striking workers reach tentative contract agreement

Public TV broadcaster WTTW-Kanal 11 and members of the Electricians’ Union have reached a tentative agreement that could end a three-week strike.

The 23 striking workers were briefed on the proposed terms Wednesday night and will vote online on Thursday to approve or reject the deal, said Brett Lyons, company representative for Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Lyons said the proposed deal would expire in July 2025.

“There were significant ‘wins’ to the company” in matters involving union jurisdiction, a key issue of the strike, Lyons said. In exchange, the union received a “sound economic package” and guarantees to hire full-time unionized workers to assuage concerns about future job losses, he said.

If the contract is ratified, workers could return to work on Friday, Lyons said.

A WTTW spokesman said: “We look forward to welcoming our IBEW colleagues back to work as soon as possible. Throughout these negotiations, our highest priority has been to negotiate in good faith, to take care of our employees and to ensure all information is factual.”

The strikers lost their company-provided health insurance when April came. The WTTW spokesman said that after ratification, workers will be eligible for reinstatement for health insurance and will be reimbursed for payments to the federal COBRA insurance program.

The spokesman said the cancellation of the insurance was required by the rules of the provider and not a decision by WTTW management.

The strikers received support from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other politicians, who vowed not to appear on WTTW’s main news program, Chicago Tonight, for the duration of the strike. So far, the show has been running in a shortened half-hour version.

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