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Gawker Reaches Deal With Writers Guild of America

Negotiators for Gawker Media and the Writers Guild of America East have reached an agreement on the first contract covering employees of the digital media company.

The three-year contract, which must be ratified by the employees to go into effect, sets a minimum annual salary of $50,000 and provides for 3% yearly raises for staff members. Employees will receive severance payments of two weeks for every year of service.

Gawker CEO Nick Denton, president and general counsel Heather Dietrick and executive editor John Cook issued the announcement Monday, noting that the contract also provides for at-will employment. The company said that condition is “a noteworthy departure from traditional union contracts, which often limit management’s ability to respond to market conditions.”

The deal — touted as “the first of its kind in the digital news business” by Gawker management — also locks in the current health and 401k plans at current levels.

The agreement comes nearly eight months after the editorial staff at Gawker Media voted on June 4 to unionize with the WGA East by an 80-27 margin. The Gawker sites include Gawker, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Deadspin, Kotaku, io9, Gizmodo and Lifehacker.

Gawker and the guild announced on May 27 that the vote would bypass the traditional route of conducting the election through the National Labor Relations Board. They said that going through the federal government presumed an antagonism between employers and employees that does not exist at the Gawker Media sites.

The WGA East began working in 2009 on representing writers in the digital technology arena. Since it announced that it was unionizing Gawker, the guild has successfully unionized the staffs at Salon, Huffington Post and Vice Media — though none of those have yet negotiated a contract.

Hamilton Nolan, a Gawker senior writer who was one of the main organizers of the union, tweeted Monday that other writers should seek a union deal.

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