Slate’s newly unionized writers and editors voted on Tuesday to go forward with a strike in demand for higher wages and stronger diversity policies. The union also wants the company to back off on its mandate that union fees for Slate employees be optional, a policy known as “right-to-work.”
A spokesman for the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents Slate’s union, told TheWrap the site’s editorial staff authorized the strike in a nearly unanimous vote of 52 to 1. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Slate workers are now “weighing when they may walk off the job.”
“The WGAE-represented employees at Slate have made two things clear to management: they want a reasonable contract that addresses their needs and respects their decision to unionize, and they’re willing to fight for it,” the guild told TheWrap in a statement. “The Writers Guild of America, East and its thousands of members stand with the Slate employees, and we know that solidarity works,” the group’s executive director, Lowell Peterson, said.
Slate declined to comment Tuesday. A Slate employee told TheWrap: “I knew we were all appalled by management’s intransigence on the ‘right-to-work’ clause, but even I was surprised that 98 percent of us voted to authorize a strike. We’re united on this, and we’re not backing down.”
Reps for Slates’s union also released a statement on Twitter Tuesday morning soon after the vote, saying it was “dismayed” by the site’s position.
“We’ve been bargaining our contract for 8 months. We’re excited by a lot of what we’ve achieved at the table. But we’re still dismayed by management’s position on certain key issues,” the union tweeted.
“Most crucially, our unit continues to be outraged by management’s inclusion of a right-to-work clause, a technique designed to degrade the legitimacy of our union,” the statement went on to say. “We love Slate. We want to make the strongest, best Slate possible. But Slate is its workers–it’s the writers, editors, producers, and staffers who make the magazine.”
Slate isn’t the only one dealing with employees’ efforts to form a union. Outlets such as Gizmodo Media Group, the HuffPost, Vice Media, the Guardian, the Daily Beast and the New Yorker have all unionized in recent years, though none have staged a strike as of yet.
Slate employees had tried other forms of protest before Tuesday’s vote, according to Bloomberg, including a “Slack strike,” where employees would sign off for one hour.
Most crucially, our unit continues to be outraged by management’s inclusion of a right-to-work clause, a technique designed to degrade the legitimacy of our union. Read more: https://t.co/hWCfbfvl9f
— Slate Union (@SlateUnion) December 11, 2018
This does not mean we are striking yet. There are still more bargaining sessions. But the staff has greenlit a strike if need be.
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) December 11, 2018