The Mirror

Politico’s Mike Elk To Newsroom: ‘Sure The Snack Bar Is Great, But A Union Contract Would Be Sweeter!’

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger

The subject line says it all: “Salon Unanimously Chooses to Unionize – Now Its Our Turn!”

Labor reporter Mike Elk is truly the greatest thing to happen to Politico since Tim Grieve‘s newsroom temper. Like a wild animal, Elk won’t be tamed and he won’t stay on message. And this is whether they ban him from their fancy new digs with 1000 different snacks or not.

Elk has made no secret of the fact that he’s trying to organize his Politico newsroom. He’s also flamboyantly open about his PTSD, which can rest on a hair-trigger when he hangs out at the office — hence management being so accommodating of him by not letting him in the building. (He’s been back a few times to visit, but he’s not yet back for good.)

On the other hand, keeping him virtual is a great way to keep him from physically infiltrating the other POLITICOS.

Salon issued a statement to organize Thursday morning that has Elk is salivating. The following letter was sent to his coworkers at the suburban Virginia newsroom. In it, he reveals some things higher-ups probably aren’t too thrilled about.

* “I hear people talking about how things all the time, but as media workers at POLITICO we have no formal way to raise objections that the company is forced to listen.”

* “I have heard many people express anxiety and frustrations about being denied raises and not knowing how to get one.”

* He says employees work long hours without being properly compensated.

Please note: The following has not been corrected for typos.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Following the lead of our brothers and sisters at Gawker, our brothers and sisters at Salon have unanimously chosen to unionize with Writers Guild of America East. Since the successful drive at Gawker, unions that represent media workers have initiated campaigns at half dozen outlets and Now, [sic] its our time to help make history. In doing so [sic] not only would we help ourselves, but help make POLITICO the type of publication where workers want to stay for their entire careers because the working conditions are so good. These [sic] our chances to take POLITICO to the next level!

Sure the snack bar is great, but a union contract would be even sweeter! At my last publication, I was in a union and up until we lost a major grant, it was the absolute best work environment in which I was ever employed. I personally feel that you never feel more dedicated to your workplace than when you have a union contract and refuse [sic]

So why would a union here at POLITICO be good for us?

1.) A Voice on the Job

As POLITICO undergoes this great transition and expands, its more important than ever that we employees have a voice on the job. I hear people talking about how things all the time, but as media workers at POLITICO we have no formal way to raise objections that the company is forced to listen [sic]. A union would give us a body to address common problems and seek a way to address them.

2.) Pay Raises

Currently, there is no formal system in place at POLITICO to get a raise like there would be with a union contract. I have heard many people express anxiety and frustrations about being denied raises and not knowing how to get one. With a union contract, there is a clear spelled out processes for getting raises if you meet certain criteria.

3.) Scheduling

Reporters often are forced to work long hours when a big news story break, but how do you get overtime pay or ask for time off without a union contract. Currently, we have no system in place for this at POLITICO. With a union contract, we could have a clear scheduling system that gives people certainty in balancing the needs of our personal lives with the needs of our professional lives.

Media workers across the digital media industry are making historic gains in giving media workers a voice on the job and now its our turn to join in the fun! Its [sic] relatively easy to do, all we need to do is circulate an NLRB petition calling for a union election, get a third of the workforce to sign it, and we can have an election within three weeks.

Feel free to contact me at my personal email at mike.elk@gmail.com or [PHONE NUMBER].

Lets join with our brothers and sister at Gawker, Salon, and lets unionize POLITICO!!!!

Solidarity,

Melk