The Huffington Post may be the next digital media company to unionize.
The company’s editorial staff formally asked management today to recognize the Writers Guild of America, East as its collective bargaining representative.
It was revealed that The Huffington Post planned to unionize with the WGAE in October. Tuesday’s call for “voluntary” union recognition comes after an “overwhelming majority” of the about 350 editorial staff at The Huffington Post and HuffPost Live signed union cards, a representative from WGAE said, noting that a vote would not be necessary, as a result. HuffPo alone lists just over 300 on its masthead on its Web site.
The Huffington Post’s organizing committee wrote: “HuffPost employees came together to form a union to ensure that we have a voice in the company’s future. A union is a practical way to both preserve what’s working and advocate for necessary changes. In just a few months, staff across the country united around key issues including: transparent and equitable compensation, clear job responsibilities, editorial freedom and independence, diversity in the newsroom and consistent management protocols on hiring, firing and discipline. We’ve appreciated the support we’ve publicly received from our editor in chief and are proud to embrace the opportunity to work with our colleagues at HuffPost and other newly unionized digital media newsrooms. We cherish working here and want to ensure that The Huffington Post continues to set industry-wide standards and stands by its ideals of editorial innovation and sustainable workplace practices.”
Lowell Peterson, executive director of WGAE, offered: “The people who write, edit and create video for Huffington Post are hard-working professionals who recognize that collective bargaining is an essential part of doing meaningful work and building sustainable careers. They join the thousands of WGAE members who care passionately about crafting insightful stories. We anticipate the company will honor the decision by the very large majority of its editorial staff to be represented by the WGAE, and we look forward to a long and productive relationship.”
The Huffington Post is in the midst of a change of ownership. In June, Verizon completed its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL, which owns the media company. President and editor in chief Arianna Huffington inked a four-year deal to stay in charge of the site.
The trend of digital media outlets joining unions began over the summer when Gawker Media joined the WGAE. Other companies that have since unionized with WGAE include Salon, Vice and ThinkProgress. The Guardian U.S. unionized with The NewsGuild-CWA in July.
The groundswell of support for unionization apparently piqued the attention of the president. In October, the WGAE was invited by President Obama to speak at the White House about the wave of digital media writers gaining a collective voice in their workplaces.