Unionizing the digital media revolution
By Patrick Cochran
A revolution is taking place in digital media. Workers at the companies that produce the material you read during work, share on Facebook, and comment about on Twitter are unionizing, and changing the Internet landscape.
It all started in the spring. For years there had been some chatter about unionizing at popular websites like Vice, Gawker, and Buzzfeed. Online writers like Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan championed the cause in their writing, but it wasn’t until April that the issue came to the forefront.
“There were a lot of reasons to join a union,” Nolan said. “Even though we have a high level of job satisfaction here, there were still issues with things like salary structure, and having a formal system for raises instead of it being ad hoc. Some of us have been through layoffs before, and after the recession we went through them here, so it is important to have a union to protect the workers.”
On April 14, Gawker’s front page ran a Nolan-written declaration, “Why We’ve Decided to Organize,” telling readers that the Gawker staff was in the beginning stages of going union. Because of Gawker’s self-described “radical transparency ethos” they decided to post all the company’s internal discussions about the process.