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Fusion Employees Seek to Unionize With Writers Guild East

Employees at the online news outlet Fusion have launched an organizing drive to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East — with management vowing to oppose those efforts.

The organizing committee announced in an open letter to staff that a majority of the online editorial staff — which numbers about 90 — had signed cards designating the WGA East as their representative in negotiations with Fusion. In response, Fusion executives Boris Gartner and Daniel Eilemberg said they will try to persuade employees not to form a union.

“We feel it is important that all employees who would be affected have the opportunity to hear Fusion’s perspective on the issue of union representation so that they can make an educated, personal decision from the privacy of a voting booth,” Gartner and Eilemberg said. “At the end of that process, we think you will agree that Guild representation would not be beneficial for you or Fusion.”

In response, the organizing committee said, “It’s not unusual for a company to resist the will of its employees, but we expected more from Fusion. We firmly stand behind our mission statement — a clear progressive vision — and hoped our company would stand with us. We are unionizing because, as our organizing letter states, we want Fusion to practice what it preaches when it comes to workers’ rights. A union will make our colleagues and our company stronger.”

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The Fusion site is owned by Univision, which acquired the Gawker assets in August for $135 million and agreed to continue the provisions of the WGA East contract at the Gawker sites, which include Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Lifehacker. That contract — the first WGA deal covering digital employees — currently covers about 90 employees.

Union members at the re-named Gizmodo Media Group issued a statement of support:

“As we at Gizmodo Media Group have learned firsthand this year, even the best job conditions can change suddenly for reasons beyond employees’ control. When they do, unionization has shown its value in stabilizing the workplace, protecting existing benefits, and building a productive working relationship with new management.”

The guild also unionized writers and producers last year at the Huffington Post, Vice, Salon, and ThinkProgress, but Gawker was the first with a union contract.

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