The bad news is that UT has abruptly stopped paying overtime to KUT staff. The good news is that KUT folks are speaking out:
Unfortunately, while employees at NPR and many of its affiliates are unionized, KUT staff are most likely barred by Texas state law from engaging in collective bargaining. No, NOT because Texas is a “right-to-work” state (strong unions can and do exist in RTW states) but because public employees in Texas who are not from GOP-favored constituencies (police/fire) generally do not have collective bargaining rights.
However, a collective voice on the job is extremely useful even in the absence of a formal collective bargaining process. Management can ignore a few individuals complaining. It’s much harder for them to ignore an organized group of people who make a series of demands. Austin teachers don’t have collective bargaining rights but they do have a union that makes sure that teachers’ interests are always heard by members of the school board.
I think KUT workers are in a strong position to get UT to reverse course. First, in contrast to, say, the Statesman, they aren’t dealing with owners who are desperate to make a quarterly profit. UT is much more likely to be sensitive to accusations that it is degrading a beloved community resource than a for-profit media company. Furthermore, KUT doesn’t just have listeners or subscribers –– it has “members.” There are thousands of people who contribute simply because they want to support an important community institution. Many of them will want to know why the product that they have supported is going downhill.
I would encourage KUT reporters to go beyond tweeting about the issue and actually report on the matter, both online and on the radio. That will light up the phone lines at UT and put whoever made this decision in the hot seat. Second, I would encourage KUT reporters to begin having meetings where they discuss workplace issues and try to come up with a formal strategy to advocate for their interests.