Gawker Media editorial employees voted overwhelmingly to unionize Wednesday, making the company the first major online-only media outlet to organize.
Employees voted 80 to 27 in favor of joining the Writers Guild of America, East. Gawker Media includes properties such as Gawker, Deadspin and Jezebel, all of which command a younger readership compared with print media.
“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," said Gawker Media Founder and Chief Executive Nick Denton. "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 unionization drive was not motivated by animosity between ownership and employees, according to Hamilton Nolan, a senior writer at Gawker.
"Every workplace could use a union," Nolan wrote earlier this year. "A union is the only real mechanism that exists to represent the interests of employees in a company. A union is also the only real mechanism that enables employees to join together to bargain collectively, rather than as a bunch of separate, powerless entities."
The company and the Writers Guild released a joint statement last month saying, “We believe the cumbersome and often fractious process of unionization is premised on an assumption of complete antagonism between management and labor. Nothing of the kind exists at Gawker Media.”
Their statement added, “We hope the labor drive at Gawker Media... can serve as a new model for cooperation in digital media.”
Gawker said the union would now determine what it wanted to bargain for and negotiate a contract.
The vote comes at a time when younger Americans have a far more favorable view of labor unions than other age groups, according to the Pew Research Center.
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