Mic Votes to Unionize, Joins the ‘Future of Digital Journalism’

Employees at the company demand pay equity, matching 401K and more diversity in a letter to management

Last Updated: February 20, 2018 @ 8:57 AM

The staff of news site Mic.com made a final decision to unionize on Tuesday. The move was supported by 88 percent of editorial staff at the website, according to reporter Will Drabold.

Employees of the website will now be affiliated with the NewsGuild of NY, who also represents editorial staffs of the New York Times, Reuters and the Daily Beast and Time Inc.

On Tuesday, Drabold and his colleagues presented Mic management with a copy of a letter informing them of the decision. Mic media reporter Kelsey Sutton, posted a copy the letter on Twitter Tuesday.

“So proud that Mic’s newsroom is unionizing today with @nyguild,” she said. “Unions are the future of digital journalism.”

The two-page note had a list of demands including that the company institute a matching 401K program, regularly scheduled pay increases, creating clearer walls of separation between editorial and branded content and salary transparency.

Things proceeded swiftly from there. Within minutes of the announcement, employees created a Twitter handle @Mic_union and several had draped their Twitter avatars in a black logo for the newly formed body (though not former managing editor Sarah Singer)

The subject of unionization has long consumed Mic editorial, going back to at least 2015. The final decision follows similar moves by Vox Media editorial and the Los Angeles Times in January of this year.

Los Angeles Times national correspondent Matt Pearce offered his congratulations over Twitter.

“Regarding the unionizations, we’re in conversations and are keeping the best interest of our employees and the company in mind,” the company said in a brief statement to TheWrap on Tuesday.

While employees cheered, the news will likely create additional headwinds for a company that has been buffeted by internal turmoil in recent months. The website was forced to lay off dozens as part of a “pivot to video” strategy last August. The pivot by Mic — and several other companies — now seems increasingly questionable with Facebook’s recent announcement that the social media giant would pivot away from news and branded content on user newsfeeds.

Shortly after the 2017 layoffs, Mic.com was the subject of a bruising long-read in the the Outline who sourced 17 current and former staffers who painted a damning portrait.

“Mic chanced upon the social justice narrative, discovered it was Facebook gold, and mined away. Now the quarry is nearly dry,” wrote then Outline Future Editor Adrianne Jeffries. “In retrospect, it looks like Mic’s commitment to social justice was never that deep.”