Members of a union representing about 100 editorial staffers at G/O Media publications — including Jezebel, The Root, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Gizmodo — have gone on strike after its contract with the company expired Monday at midnight.
Gizmodo Media Group Union, organized with the Writers Guild of America, East, unanimously approved the strike (with 93% of members voting) after the union’s second contract expired Feb. 28. Members of the GMG Union began picketing outside G/O Media’s offices at 1290 Avenue of the Americas in New York City on Tuesday.
In a statement, the GMG Union said, “In 2015, this union broke new ground when it organized the first digital media union. Now, GMG Union will break ground yet again: We are the first digital media shop to go on an open-ended strike for a fair contract.”
The GMG Union said it has been engaged in “good-faith negotiations” with G/O Media since late January. “At every step, G/O Media has slowed down the process with a lack of preparedness and stalling tactics,” it said.
The union is asking G/O Media to maintain its cap on healthcare costs; guarantee minimum wage increases; add trans-inclusive health coverage (compliant with World Professional Association for Transgender Health guidelines); and maintain parental leave benefits. The union comprises roughly 100 reporters, editors, artists, podcasters, social media specialists and videographers.
In a memo sent Tuesday to G/O Media staff, CEO Jim Spanfeller wrote that he was “disappointed we could not come to terms on the current GMG Union contract. We bargained in good faith right up until the deadline late last night when the Union voted to cut off talks and strike.” Spanfeller claimed that the terms G/O Media offered the union were “not only equivalent to, but in some instances better than, terms agreed to by The Onion Union (GMG’s sister union here at G/O) just one year ago.”
“We are struggling to understand why terms agreed to by half the editorial union members last year are not acceptable to the other half now,” Spanfeller wrote in the memo. “Unfortunately, that puts G/O Media in an untenable position with regard to these current negotiations.”
G/O Media was formed in 2019 after Univision sold Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion to private-equity firm Great Hill Partners and Spanfeller, who owns a minority stake in the company. Univision had in 2016 bought several assets of Gawker Media in a bankruptcy auction (which didn’t include Gawker.com, owned by Bustle Digital Group).
With the strike vote, the GMG Union launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to provide support for union members “who will suffer financial duress from this interruption to their normal pay and benefits.” By 3 p.m. ET on March 1, the campaign had raised $32,279 of the $45,000 goal.
The union posted photos of the picket line Tuesday on social media:
There is now a digital and physical picket line outside G/O Media. Industry colleagues, please support @gmgunion by not crossing either. Learn more about why we're striking at https://t.co/fUKhWRwu3M #gmgstrike pic.twitter.com/exanmNmoUs
— GMG Union (@gmgunion) March 1, 2022