As Hearst Magazines staffers are still awaiting a date to vote for their union, another media organization is already on its second contract.
Following months of negotiations, news and opinion site The Huffington Post’s 125-strong union, which formed in 2016, just ratified its second collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East. This is the same body through which hundreds of Hearst employees are attempting to unionize.
“The Guild reached an agreement with HuffPost that makes critical gains in compensation, inclusion, successorship and the use of contractors,” Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE, said Monday. “A union contract is instrumental in protecting journalists and journalism during unpredictable times. We encourage everyone who crafts content for a living to join together in a union.”
The HuffPost Union’s new three-year agreement includes the majority of workers receiving a 3 percent minimum pay increase in 2020, 3 percent in 2021, and 3.25 percent in 2022. The exception being that salaries for senior reporters and editors will increase by 4.5 percent in the first year and fall in line with the rest of the company.
The contract also has a commitment to provide legal representation to employees and former employees who get sued over their work for HuffPost. According to the union, this is significant as its owner, telco giant Verizon, initially wanted to condition legal indemnification upon employees being in compliance with its own code of conduct.
Elsewhere, a diversity committee will get $35,000 a year for journalism-related programs, while the company will make “reasonable efforts” to interview at least one diverse candidate for every job opening. The HuffPost also cannot hire a contractor for bargaining unit work on any team for more than a 12-month contract.
It also agreed to a new successorship clause, meaning that if the HuffPost gets sold, the union contract remains in place. There had been media reports last year that Verizon was looking to sell The HuffPost, but its chief executive officer denied this.
The HuffPost Union Bargaining Committee said, “We are so proud of our second union contract, which was negotiated over several months and culminated in an intense four-day marathon of bargaining. We were able to tackle a very challenging and at times emotional process because of the mutual respect, support and solidarity we felt from our entire unit from beginning to end.”
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