Dotdash Meredith Union Secures 15% Average Pay Increase, 3% Annual Raises in New Contract Agreement

The three-year deal covers approximately 160 staffers at People, Entertainment Weekly and Martha Stewart Living

dotdash meredith logos
Photo: IAC/Meredith

Unionized workers at Dotdash Meredith, one of the largest digital publishers in the U.S., have reached contract agreements with management after years of bargaining, the NewsGuild of New York announced on Tuesday. 

The new contracts cover approximately 160 staffers at People, Entertainment Weekly and Martha Stewart Living in a three-year deal for which the union has been fighting since 2021. 

The guild stated the contracts set “new standards” for union members across the company and the industry, with a 15% average pay increase, higher hourly wages for lowest-earning staffers and just cause protections for termination. 

This is the first contract for all bargaining units of Dotdash Meredith, with the exception of People print as they were bargaining for a successive contract. Union members voted to ratify the new contracts on Monday. 

“We’ve been in fight-mode since 2020, when we began organizing some of our brands besides People print,” People copy editor and bargaining committee member Gabrielle Danchick said in a statement. “We’ve withstood layoffs, COVID lockdown, deaths, departures, debt and all-around bad behavior from the company nearly every step of the way.”

“It’s a relief to finally flip the fight-mode switch off and take a breather as the company does the right thing. Because of our collective resolve and refusal to back down, we have a strong legally binding agreement that gives us the protections we need and the kind of pay that will make a huge difference in so many lives,” she continued. 

The union’s contract wins include a pay increase to $30.63/hour for the lowest-paid current bargaining unit members, guaranteed 3% raises throughout the next three years, $1.6 million in lump-sum retroactive pay increases, an average pay increase for employees at ratification of nearly 15% and a $1,500 signing bonus. 

Additionally, the contracts boast increased worker protections such as just cause for discipline and termination, reinstitution of recall rights after layoffs, 35-hour workweeks and more. 

“These contracts set a new standard for our members at Dotdash Meredith,” president of The NewsGuild of New York Susan DeCarava said in a statement. “It’s why we do what we do as a union: We fight as one and win contracts that change our members’ lives.”

The union contracts were a long time coming, as management and the guild engaged in years of bitter bargaining to reach an agreement. In January 2023, Dotdash Meredith implemented layoffs impacting 7% of the workforce, equivalent to 274 staffers.

CEO Neil Vogel noted the action was a “direct response” to conditions that span “broader challenges of the ad industry and of the economy as a whole.” 

Then, that February, union members staged a rally at Dotdash Meredith headquarters in an effort to bring management closer to a deal. Additionally, union members marched on Vogel’s office in April.

Barry Diller’s IAC Dotdash acquired magazine publisher Meredith in 2021, in an all-cash deal valued at $2.7 billion dollars. Meredith’s wide-ranging portfolio includes brands and media publications like People, InStyle, Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, AllRecipes, Southern Living and more.

However, the workers’ win coincides with Tuesday’s other news that Dotdash Meredith cemented a new partnership with OpenAI to license content for AI training. The company will work with OpenAI to develop new AI products and provide real-time information to ChatGPT. As part of the agreement, OpenAI will use Dotdash Meredith content and links to articles in Chatbot responses to users. 

“We have not been shy about the fact that AI platforms should pay publishers for their content and that content must be appropriately attributed,” Vogel said in a statement Tuesday. “This deal is a testament to the great work OpenAI is doing on both fronts to partner with creators and publishers and ensure a healthy Internet for the future.”

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