Unions are Gaining a Foothold at Digital Media Companies

Labor News

The control room for “AM to DM,” a news show produced by BuzzFeed in New York. BuzzFeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti, has spoken out against the need for a union at his company. Credit David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

Reprinted from The New York Times by Matthew Sedacca on December 26, 2017.

After employees at the online media company Vox Media announced plans to form a union last month, German Lopez, a senior reporter at the company’s general news website Vox.com, posted a thread on Twitter that inspired a heated debate more than 1,000 comments in length.

In the first tweet, Lopez said, “I am against #VoxUnion.” He followed that one by arguing that some writers wanted a union “as protection for laziness.” He added that Vox was “a generous company” and “some people want to take advantage of that.”

Then a couple of weeks ago, Lopez changed his mind, swayed by the idea that the company’s generosity isn’t set in stone and that new management could roll back benefits.

The organizing effort at Vox is part of a growing union movement at more than a dozen digital publishers. When they entered the media fray, these and other online players sought to shake up the status quo, but while their traffic soared, their profits didn’t. Now they confront the same job cutbacks and financial uncertainty as their more established brethren.

Employees at now-defunct Gawker Media joined the labor union the Writers Guild of America East in the summer of 2015. Members of the editorial staffs at Vice Media, ThinkProgress and HuffPost followed suit, organizing unions that their companies recognized and that subsequently ratified contracts. …

NY Times 12/26

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About Jeffrey Burman 5135 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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