Gawker Media runs some of the most popular sites on the Internet, including Gawker, Deadspin, io9, Gizmodo and Jezebel. Next Wednesday, writers and members of its editorial staff will vote on whether to unionize under the banner of the Writers Guild of America.
The election is unusual in a couple of ways. First, it’s a rare (perhaps unique) effort to unionize writers who work exclusively in digital media. Second, the secret ballot election is entirely self-organized, without the oversight of the National Labor Relations Board. As the joint management-union statement explained:
The traditional process of union authorization runs through the National Labor Relations Board. But by mutual agreement we are bypassing this route in favor of holding our own secret-ballot vote, to be held on Wednesday, June 3, because 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. We are united in our belief that writers should decide for themselves whether to organize to protect their own rights through collective bargaining, and we hope the labor drive at Gawker Media, culminating in the June 3 election, can serve as a new model for cooperation in digital media.
Yesterday Gawker posted an open thread for writers and editors to comment about the union vote and though it is categorized under the heading “Too Insidery” it is a welcome look behind the scenes of a union representation campaign and vote. At last count there are some 900 comments.
It is worth examining no matter your position on unions, since on both sides there are fatuous arguments, misinformation, disinformation and no information. It’s a fascinating read.
An unscientific analysis would suggest the union will win in a close vote. But secret ballots have a way of confounding public perceptions so we’ll just have to wait and see.