News Staff Demonstrate Outside Illinois Station

You know it's bad, when the news staff starts demonstrating outside the station. 

That is exactly what happened at Quincy owned WEEK and which also operates Sinclair owned WHOI in Peoria. 

"Our previous contract expired in March. We are working without one," said Garry Moore, WEEK newsman and president of the Peoria Local of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The Journal Star reports that both sides remain apart on issues that include wages and benefits, paid time off and cost shifting on healthcare from the company, said Moore. Mark DeSantis, vice president and general manager for WEEK/WHOI, could not be reached for comment.

Moore said that unhappy workers recently staged an impromptu demonstration outside the East Peoria station. Some carried signs that read, "Good journalists deserve good wages" and "New owner, same story."

Earlier contract negotiations at the station proved volatile in 2011 when workers clashed with New York-based Granite Broadcasting, the previous station owner, over outsourcing issues. Quincy Media, a media company with 16 TV stations, acquired WEEK in 2015 along with other Granite TV stations in Duluth, Minn. and Binghamton, N.Y.

Moore said that news personnel are further constrained by the fact that in recent years the station's newsroom has shrunk from 30 positions to 21. Turnover has also been a problem with 17 people having left the station in the past 16 months, he said.

The most recent departure was Marc Strauss, a reporter and weekend sports anchor, who quit last week after 31 years at WEEK.