Seattle City Council Takes on Tegna

It appears that the Seattle City Council is backing the union at Tegna owned KING. 

KING has been involved in contentious labor negotiations and the City Council is getting involved.

A council committee has passed a resolution supporting the unionized news staff who say their jobs are threatened by the corporate owner’s business model. 

KPLU reports that KING has a long history as one of the pioneers of broadcast television and has won numerous national awards, but now unions representing photographers and engineers at KING 5 say the station’s owner, a company called Tegna, is pushing a contract that puts their jobs at risk.

Dave Twedell is business representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 600, which represents KING photographers. He said Tegna wants to be able to pay citizen journalists $50 to submit video instead of the trained union members it has on staff.

"We can’t afford to have amateurs getting in the middle of car chases or having amateurs try to cover earthquakes or tell us what’s safe," Twedell said. "We’ve got to preserve the tradition of greatness that was KING 5."

A spokesman for Tegna didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Seattle City Council Members Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold sponsored the resolution in support of KING 5’s news staff and calling on the company to bargain in good faith. The measure passed out of committee and will now head to the full council for a vote. 

Sawant said it’s important for city government to support workplaces that have collective bargaining agreements.

“Statistics have shown throughout decades that when you have a larger degree of unionization, even the workers that are not unionized, if there’s a union culture in your city, it actually prevents wages from bottoming out," she said.

The resolution also calls on all local Seattle broadcasters to disclose whether they’re taking part in a federal auction of public airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission has begun the process of auctioning off some broadcast spectrum to cell phone companies.