March 1, 2022

Roughly 100 unionized journalists at six different G/O Media newsrooms went on strike Tuesday morning after negotiations for a third contract broke down.

The workers are part of the Gizmodo Media Group Union, which includes editorial employees at Jezebel, The Root, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Gizmodo. The union is organized with the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents a number of digital journalists.

“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 union wrote in a statement. “After more than a month of bargaining, our shop of workers from Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and The Root voted 100 percent in favor of a strike, with 93 percent of members voting.”

The union’s contract expired Monday night, and workers claim that G/O Media has tried to stall negotiations. They are asking for trans-inclusive health care coverage, higher salaries, work-from-home flexibility, additional parental leave, caps on health care costs, a “robust diversity hiring initiative” and protection against forced relocations.

“If management wants to come to the table, the strike could end today,” said Murjani Rawls, a staff member at The Root and a member of the union’s bargaining committee. “Being journalists, being creators, being in video and all these creative things — they mean something. That’s something that you just can’t put a certain price tag on.

“So we will do whatever we have to in order to come to the table for some great, fair and equal contract.”

In an email to staff Tuesday morning, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller wrote that he was “disappointed” that the two sides had not been able to agree on a new contract and that the company had bargained in good faith. He wrote that the proposals offered to the GMG Union were equivalent to, or better than, the terms agreed to a year ago by The Onion Union, which represents several of G/O Media’s other brands and is also organized by the Writers Guild.

“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. Unfortunately, that puts G/O Media in an untenable position with regard to these current negotiations,” he wrote. “Disagreements between unions and management are nothing new, and I am hopeful we will find a middle ground soon. We invite the GMG Union to return to the bargaining table so that we may reach a deal that satisfies its members while enabling G/O to operate profitably.”

Rawls said some of the company’s proposals, especially the ones concerning wages, need to be updated to be considered equivalent to the ones found in The Onion Union’s contract: “I think that everybody would agree as times go on, you have to move with the times, especially with compensation.”

Additional bargaining dates have not yet been set.

Workers gathered outside G/O Media’s New York City offices Tuesday morning, and the union plans to continue pickets both digitally and in person.

Labor relations at G/O Media have been tumultuous since the company was formed in 2019, and its brands — which also include Deadspin, The A.V. Club and The Onion — have seen high staff turnover.

Just months after G/O Media’s formation, Deadspin’s editorial staff resigned en masse after its interim editor-in-chief was fired for refusing to obey an order to “stick to sports.” Last year, roughly 75% of Jezebel’s editorial staff quit, including its editor-in-chief and deputy editor, due to what some claimed was a “hostile work environment.” Meanwhile, at The Root, 15 of the site’s 16 staff also quit last year.

Earlier this year, seven long-time A.V. Club staff based in Chicago quit after the company informed them that they would have to relocate to Los Angeles without a cost-of-living increase. The company also posted three of those staffers’ jobs before they submitted their resignations.

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Angela Fu is a reporter for Poynter. She can be reached at or on Twitter @angelanfu.
Angela Fu

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