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Union staffers at several podcast production companies owned by Spotify have penned a letter to the music streaming service and podcast network Parcast, calling on them to agree to a measure aimed at fostering “a more inclusive and diverse company.”
On Wednesday, workers at Parcast, The Ringer and Gimlet Media that are allied with the Writers Guild of America East presented an open letter to management that asserted that amid union contract negotiations at Supernatural with Ashley Flowers maker Parcast, Parcast and Spotify had “rejected” a proposal to require that half of all job candidates who reach the stage beyond a recruiter phone interview come from underrepresented backgrounds. “At Parcast, this designation would ensure increased opportunities for people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities,” the letter states.
The Hollywood Reporter asked Spotify for comment.
Language that requires this diversity commitment in the recruiting process is enshrined in The Ringer and Gimlet’s WGA East contracts, the letter adds. “Both The Ringer and Gimlet were able to define what categories were underrepresented at their companies, and both set goals to make sure that 50% of job candidates came from those backgrounds.”
The letter continues, “Today, the unions at Spotify stand united and urge Spotify to commit to concrete and enforceable goals that would build a more inclusive and diverse company.”
One hundred and thirty staffers signed the letter, which accounts for a “supermajority” of the WGA East bargaining units at all three companies, the union says. Ninety percent of the Parcast unit and over 67 percent of the Gimlet and The Ringers units signed, according to the union.
The Parcast Union is still negotiating a first contract with management after the group was voluntarily recognized in Oct. 2020. With its first deal at Parcast, the union is aiming to make improvements to DEI commitments, increase salaries, change overtime policies, gain intellectual property rights, keep their ability to do work outside the company and coordinate their contract’s timeline with Gimlet and The Ringer. Parcast’s bargaining unit includes content writers, fact-checkers, producers and researchers, among other roles. Gimlet and The Ringer ratified their first contracts in March and April 2021, respectively, after management at both companies voluntarily recognized their unions in 2019.
The Wednesday letter from staffers at the Spotify-owned companies resurfaces a February note from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek to staff amid controversy over The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, where Ek told staffers, “If we believe in having an open platform as a core value of the company, then we must also believe in elevating all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a diversity of backgrounds. We’ve been doing a great deal of work in this area already but I think we can do even more.”
The podcast staffers wrote in response, “We, the undersigned members of the Parcast, Gimlet, and Ringer Unions, believe it’s time for Parcast and Spotify management to live up to their words.”
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