Gawker Media’s editorial staff is forming a union. Nearly three-quarters of those employees eligible voted yesterday to unionize through the Writers Guild of America, East.
“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,” Lowell Peterson, the executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East said in a statement this morning. “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.”
It’s a big deal for digital media, an industry that is often derided for churning out content as disposable as its creators. Last week, staffers voiced their opinions, concerns, reasoning and planned votes in the thread of a Gawker post. It was remarkable in its openness and compelling in the way of eavesdropping on a conversation (even if the actual format of Kinja comments made it somewhat difficult to follow).
Broadcasting an internal workplace debate whether or not to form a union is unusual, mostly because management usually frowns on it.
“One of the interesting components in this organizing campaign [was] the lack of hostile, aggressive management,” Mr. Peterson told us earlier this week. “Very often what happens in a union organizing campaign is that everybody wants to keep it quiet. Not because they don’t want to have a robust debate, but because they are worried that the boss will find out.”
But in this case, the boss is Nick Denton. And he’s been pretty cool with it.
When executive editor Tommy Craggs told Mr. Denton that the employees were thinking of unionizing, “he gazed off into the distance, gave me a half smile, and shrugged,” Mr. Craggs told Wired. Which is basically exactly how we imagine the Gawker owner would react.