Labor Dispute Escalates at Peoria’s WEEK-WHOI

By Andrew Gauthier 

Staff at Peoria’s WEEK-WHOI have been working without a formal labor deal since February and, after rejecting Granite Broadcasting’s “final offer” in April, they are now enlisting the support of the local community.

At issue in WEEK-WHOI’s dispute with Granite and Silver Point Capital, Granite’s largest investor, is the company’s unwillingness to ensure that local news will in fact stay local. Other Granite stations have been asked to outsource some of their news production, including weather, and WEEK-WHOI want to make sure that all of the local news they air is produced within their market.

At the end of April, following the rejection of Granite’s so-called “final offer,” WEEK-WHOI organized a rally at the station and invited members of the community to participate. And now WEEK-WHOI staffers, with support from AFTRA, are distributing flyers and asking local residents to sign a petition.

“We have tried over and over again to successfully bargain a contract that provides for our members and honors their commitment and duty to their community in Central Illinois,” said J.D. Miller, AFTRA’s chief negotiator. “Our efforts to reach a fair contract have been ignored, so we are now escalating our approach.”

In addition to passing out pro-WEEK-WHOI flyers around the Peoria area, AFTRA has been distributing them in Darien, CT, where Granite CEO Peter Markham lives.

The flyers and petition state that the “Professional News Team at Central Illinois’ WEEK/WHOI is standing up for their professions, their communities and decent jobs by fighting back against Granite Broadcasting’s attacks on local and professional news. Granite Broadcasting management is threatening to possibly outsource local news, degrade working conditions for your neighborhood news team and allow amateurs to inform your community!”

Here’s a video of last month’s rally at the WEEK-WHOI studios: