Gawker ed­i­to­rial staff votes for union

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By David Pierson david.pierson@la­times.com Twit­ter: @dh­pier­son

Gawker Me­dia ed­i­to­rial em­ploy­ees have voted over­whelm­ingly to union­ize, mak­ing the com­pany the first ma­jor on­line-only me­dia out­let to or­ga­nize.

Em­ploy­ees voted 80 to 27 in fa­vor of join­ing the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, East, on Wed­nes­day.

Gawker Me­dia in­cludes prop­er­ties such as Gawker, Dead­spin and Jezebel, all of which at­tract younger read­ers than print me­dia.

The union­iza­tion drive was not mo­ti­vated by an­i­mos­ity be­tween own­er­ship and em­ploy­ees, ac­cord­ing to Hamil­ton Nolan, a se­nior writer at Gawker.

“Ev­ery work­place could use a union,” Nolan wrote ear­lier this year. “A union is the only real mech­a­nism that ex­ists to rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of em­ploy­ees in a com­pany. A union is also the only real mech­a­nism that en­ables em­ploy­ees to join to­gether to bar­gain col­lec­tively, rather than as a bunch of sep­a­rate, pow­er­less en­ti­ties.”

The com­pany and the Writ­ers Guild re­leased a joint state­ment last month say­ing, “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.”

Their state­ment added, “We hope the la­bor drive at Gawker Me­dia ... can serve as a new model for co­op­er­a­tion in dig­i­tal me­dia.”

Gawker said the union would now de­ter­mine what it wanted to bar­gain for and ne­go­ti­ate a con­tract.

The vote comes at a time when younger Amer­i­cans have a far more fa­vor­able view of la­bor unions than other age groups, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter.

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