Gawker Media workers vote for union

In a big and rare win for organized labor, editorial employees at Gawker Media have voted to unionize, it was disclosed Thursday.

The decision constitutes an apparent first inroad for unions in the new and booming world of digital media. While the unit is small (118 workers), the symbolism is probably greater.

Workers voted for representation by the Writers Guild of America, East, whose membership includes TV and film writers, by a 3 to 1 margin. The union said that 90.7 percent of those eligible voted Wednesday, with 80 saying yes to the union and 27 rejected the notion.

"As Gawker's writers have demonstrated, organizing in digital media is a real option, not an abstraction. People who do this work really can come together for their own common good," said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, in a formal statement.

Peterson also said, "The WGAE, Gawker's writers, and the company's management share a commitment to journalistic integrity and creative freedom. We are eager for Gawker's editorial staff to join our creative community, and we are eager to negotiate a fair contract."

Gawker Media founder and chief executive Nick Denton said, “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,"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."

The process is being overseen by a third-party arbitrator agreed to by both the union and management. Now the hard work begins, namely the two sides sitting down and discussing terms of a first contract.

Gawker Media is the brainchild of Denton and includes the websites Gawker, Jezebel and Deadspin, among others.

Unions have had scant success in organizing new media workers, as well as little throughout Silicon Valley.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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