The Onion Staffers Approve Strike Authorization Against G/O Media With 97% of Vote

The media satire publication’s contract with unionized writers expires Jan. 31

The Onion
The Onion

The overwhelming majority of writers at The Onion are prepared to go on strike with parent company G/O Media when their current contract expires on Jan. 31 if their requests for better pay and protections against AI-generated content are not met.

The Writers Guild of America East said Friday that 97% of members at Onion Inc., have signed the strike pledge, which was delivered to G/O Media management at a bargaining session on Thursday. The last line in the pledge reads, “We are prepared to strike.”

“This strike pledge reflects the mandate from our members to address several pressing workplace issues, especially the need for fair pay and AI protections,” said Marnie Shure, managing editor of The Takeout and member of WGAE’s Onion Inc. Union bargaining committee.

”Employees of G/O Media deserve salaries that keep pace with the rising cost of living, and we require assurance that AI-generated content will not jeopardize our employment now or in the future,” Shure continued. “We are dedicated stewards of some of the internet’s most beloved legacy brands, and we take that work seriously. It’s time for G/O Media to invest in its people.”

Sara David, WGAE’s vice president of Online Media, said in a statement shared with TheWrap, “The entire membership of the Writers Guild of America East stands in solidarity with the Onion Inc. Union. The Guild will fight to ensure they get a fair contract that addresses existential issues around successorship and AI, the latter of which is critical given G/O Media has already moved forward with using AI to replace workers and posting factually inaccurate articles.”

G/O Media began rolling out AI-generated content across various sites in June. The decision was not popular with staffers, especially as it came after a round of layoffs. A now-infamous bot-generated “Star Wars” list that ran in July was roundly criticized for its many errors, as well as the fact that staffers learned about it 10 minutes before it went live.

Roughly 100 writers and content producers at Jezebel, Gizmodo and other G/O Media websites went on strike in March 2022. Among the issues they were fighting for were a cap on health care costs and secure guaranteed minimum wage increases.

The 2022 strike was resolved after five days. The new contract included such concessions as 15 weeks of parental leave, 12 weeks of severance pay and the addition of trans-inclusive healthcare coverage.

The WGAE and The Onion Union, which includes 34 creative staffers at The Onion, The A.V. Club, Deadspin, The Takeout, and Onion Labs, began negotiations for this, their second union contract, on Nov. 20, 2023.

G/O Media also owns Gizmodo Media Group, whose staff is also represented by the Writers Guild of America East. The GMG Union includes workers at Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Quartz, and The Root.


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