According to the WGA East, a strong majority of the 90 employees at Bill Simmons Media Group, the publisher of The Ringer — 66 in all — signed union-authorization cards. The recognition by company management comes just days after employees announced their decision on Aug. 12 to unionize with the Guild.
“We welcome the editorial, video, and podcast teams at The Ringer to the Writers Guild of America East,” Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, said in a statement. “Together we will reaffirm that collective bargaining works for creative professionals, and we look forward to building a strong, productive relationship with The Ringer.”
The Ringer’s union organizing committee said in a statement, “Across the realms of sports, pop culture, and technology, The Ringer’s reporting and analysis has always championed the rights of talented athletes and creators. A union allows us to embody those values in-house, and we look forward to collaborating on a brighter future for the company and its employees.”
The staffers at The Ringer, in their letter of intent to unionize, cited compensation, benefits, diversity, severance pay and creator rights (to receive revenue sharing for intellectual property when applicable), as issues they are seeking to address through collective bargaining with the WGA East.
Simmons founded sports-journalism site Grantland with ESPN in 2011, before he non-amicably parted ways with the Disney-owned sports giant four years later. He founded The Ringer in 2016 after leaving ESPN.
The WGA East, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a labor union representing writers in film, TV, news and new media. It began organizing workers in the digital sector a few years ago, starting in 2015 with the now-defunct Gawker Media. The union now represents workers at companies and publications including Vox Media, Fast Company, Talking Points Memo, ThinkProgress, Verizon Media’s HuffPost, The Intercept, Vice Media, Salon, Slate, CBSN, Refinery29, Group Nine Media’s Thrillist and The Dodo, and G/O Media (the former Gizmodo Media Group).