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In A First For Online Media, Gawker Writers Join Union

For the first time, workers at a digital media company have voted to join a union. Editorial employees at Gawker Media are joining the Writers Guild of America, after a vote in which 80 employees or 75 percent voted in favor of forming a union, and 27 employees, or 25 percent opposed.

In a post on the Gawker website, the editorial employees say the next steps are "determining what we want to bargain for, forming a bargaining committee and negotiating a contract."

Gawker, based in New York, runs a number of websites, including Gawker, Gizmodo and Jezebel. Together they claim 64 million readers. While Gawker's move is a first in the digital world, employees of many newspapers and broadcast networks, including NPR, are union members.

In an earlier post explaining why employees wanted to form a union, writer Hamilton Nolan praised Gawker as being "relatively well run," but added this:

"The online media industry makes real money. It's now possible to find a career in this industry, rather than just a fleeting job. An organized work force is part of growing up. I fully expect that Gawker Media will emerge from this experience stronger than it has ever been."

Gawker CEO Nick Denton issued a statement, saying he is "pleased Gawker is leading the movement in the online media world toward collaboration and inclusion."

In an op ed piece in the Los Angeles Times published before the vote, former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse said a successful vote "would be a big PR boost for the ailing labor movement."

"It will show that unions, which have focused in recent years on organizing low-wage workers, can also attract hip, highly educated workers, many of them Ivy League graduates."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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