Gawker Media, a company that prides itself on marching to its own drummer, will do just that with it’s upcoming vote to unionize on June 3. They’re bypassing the National Labor Relations Board and heading straight for a secret ballot.
If it goes through, sources say it could widen the possibility of Politico‘s newsroom venturing into union territory. And if you want to read a more down-to-earth explanation of all this, see Hamilton Nolan‘s first-person account from April.
On Wednesday, Gawker Media and the Writers Guild of America, East issued a joint statement about the upcoming vote.
“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 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.”
More than six years ago, the WGAE embarked on a project to examine the opportunities and challenges presented by digital technology, to build connections with people who are creating content in the digital space, and to ensure that writers have a seat at the table as new business and creative models are developed.
“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 Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “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.”