The editorial staff at Gawker Media has voted overwhelmingly in favor to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East.
The results of Wednesday’s vote yielded 75 percent of ballots in favor of being represented by the WGAE for purposes of collective bargaining with Gawker Media.
It’s a first for a digital newsroom and comes at time when unions are eroding and journalism is a fast-moving field in constant upheaval.
The staff of Gawker, whose family of sites also includes Jezebel, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Kotaku, io9 and Lifehacker, said its next steps will be “determining what we want to bargain for; forming a bargaining committee; and negotiating a contract.”
Over 90 percent of eligible voters cast ballots — 107 out of 118 people — with one the question: “Do you wish to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East for purposes of collective bargaining with Gawker Media?”
80 voted “yes” and 27 “no.”
“As Gawker’s writers have demonstrated, organizing in digital media is a real option, not an abstraction. People who do this work really can come together for their own common good,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE.
“The WGAE, Gawker’s writers, and the company’s management share a commitment to journalistic integrity and creative freedom. We are eager for Gawker’s editorial staff to join our creative community, and we are eager to negotiate a fair contract,” he added.
In a post last week, Gawker Media Staff urged employees to share their thoughts on the vote.
“Working for this company is incredible, and we’re in a very good place right now. But we also exist in a bubble. When it bursts, I’d like us to have fair labor practices in place to protect everyone and provide for them in the event of “downsizing,” one female staff member wrote in the comments section.
She said the company needs “consistent salary minimums for each position, a regular and equitable way of addressing raises, and a system for approving any changes to our health plan, so those changes can’t happen unilaterally. We need a grievance structure in place, in case we’re ever working for people who aren’t as cool as Tommy Craggs and Lacey Donohue. As more of us start families, we need a way to change policies like maternity and parental leave in the event that those policies don’t serve everyone equally well.”
Others felt the vote was rushed, called it awkward, and doubted the WGA’s ability to help the publication unionize.