The Writers Guild of America East and Gawker Media have agreed to hold a unionization election on June 3 for employees of news and niche sites Gawker, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, io9, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Jezebel.
The two organizations issued a joint statement noting that the vote will bypass the traditional route of having the election conducted through the National Labor Relations Board. The statement asserted that going through the federal government presumes an antagonism between employers and employees that does not exist at the Gawker Media sites.
The guild announced a unionization drive on April 17. There are 120 eligible voters with 60% working at Gawker headquarters in New York City while the remaining 40% work remotely.
“Gawker Media and the Writers Guild of America East are happy to announce a first-of-its-kind election whereby the members of Gawker Media’s editorial staff will determine whether they wish to form a union,” the statement said.
“The traditional process of union authorization runs through the National Labor Relations Board. But by mutual agreement we are bypassing this route in favor of holding our own secret-ballot vote, to be held on Wednesday, June 3, because we believe the cumbersome and often fractious process of unionization is premised on an assumption of complete antagonism between management and labor.”
“Nothing of the kind exists at Gawker Media. We are united in our belief that writers should decide for themselves whether to organize to protect their own rights through collective bargaining, and we hope the labor drive at Gawker Media, culminating in the June 3 election, can serve as a new model for cooperation in digital media.”
The guild noted that it began working in 2009 on representing writers in the digital technology arena. It’s focused most of its organizing efforts in nonfiction television in recent years and has collective bargaining agreements with three production companies — Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Prods. and Lion TV.
“Digital technology is dissolving the old distinctions between genres and platforms, and Gawker has built a sustainable model of investigating and reporting original stories online,” said WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson. “We share Gawker’s commitment to free speech, its support for independent voices and diversity. Like the writers at Gawker, the guild’s members are committed to crafting compelling stories, whether to inform or entertain, whether as satire or drama or news. We look forward to working with the men and women of Gawker.”