Gawker Couldn’t Be More Cautiously Optimistic About The New Union
After a fevered debate, Gawker revealed Thursday its editorial staff has voted to unionize, and the staff has a lot to say about it.
The vote took place Wednesday with results being revealed early the following morning. The vote followed an intense debate that tittered from ridiculous to serious on a forum the news company set up for its staff. In the end, 75 percent voted to join the union.
“Yesterday, more than 100 Gawker Media editorial employees voted on the question of whether to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East for the purpose of collective bargaining,” Gawker said in a statement. “We are unionized.”
Freddie DeBoer, a freelance writer for Gawker, notes the upcoming negotiations are likely to get tough, real tough, but it will probably end up benefiting the origination as a whole.
“Look, there’s going to be a lot of fighting,” DeBoer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unionizing is very difficult.”
“In the long run, it’s going to make working at Gawker much more pleasant,” DeBoer continued. “We’ll have a structure in place for grievances.”
Kevin Draper, a writer for the Gawker Media-owned sports website Deadspin, notes he is not sure what impact organizing will have on the company as a whole but he is optimistic it will be generally positive for those who did join the union.
“I think it will generally be a good thing for editorial employees,” Draper told TheDCNF. “People want different things out of a contract with management, but if we do a good job in the negotiating process we’ll come up with a set of asks that everybody broadly agrees on.”
“Things like a salary floor and guaranteed severance—with few, if any, cultural changes,” he went onto say. “That is one of the things that has been pretty apparent all along: the vast majority of us really like working here, and don’t want any major cultural changes.”
Nick Denton, founder and president of Gawker, sees his company as helping to lead the way as more news outlets and online publications move towards organizing.
“While I’m thrilled to know the American labor movement is alive and well, I never thought Gawker would be the test case to prove that,” Denton said in a statement provided to TheDCNF. “There’s no reason that so many U.S. workplaces are contentious and I’m very pleased Gawker is leading the movement in the online media world toward collaboration and inclusion.”
Nevertheless, even with high hopes, Gawker writers are likely right to assume the road ahead will be rough, especially if the online forum set up by the company for its staff is any indication.
“I’m voting no,” Leah Finnegan, the features editor for Gawker, wrote. “Unions suck.”
Drew Magary, a writer for Deadspin and Gawker, decided to vote no to the union for several reasons, primarily because he “fucking” hates meetings.
“Not to be rude but I am voting yes on the union because management systematically uses its power to crush labor and now it’s time to turn the tables and destroy management,” Leah Beckmann, deputy editor for Gawker, posted.
“You say how great things are – but you think a union can ensure that everything stays great?” one poster noted. “Everything is great because you have a great boss. Your vote of yes is a vote of no confidence.”
“If you have confidence in your boss, you are an idiot. Trust has to be a two way street and that is not happening anymore,” another poster said.
Nevertheless, Draper notes the public forum, as crazy as it got, was probably a good idea in the end to help get some of the concerns out front right away.
“In an ideal world, a public forum wouldn’t have been needed, because privately everything would’ve been roses and sunshine,” Draper stated. “But that obviously wasn’t the case.”
“Given that there were some tensions behind the scenes, yeah, I think the public forum was great,” he continued. “It allowed many people to unburden themselves and make sure other people heard what they were saying, and led to some interesting discussions.”
“We were certainly a stronger and more united staff afterwards,” Draper added. “It didn’t hurt that it was also the best story on the internet that day—a live action soap opera—and we always try and have the best stories.”
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