Gothamist and DNAinfo Vote to Unionize With Writers Guild East

Getty Images
New York City

The vote brings the total number of WGAE-represented digital news workers to around 750.

The Writers Guild of America East’s march into digital newsrooms continued Thursday, with a vote by the editorial staffs at Gothamist and DNAinfo, two prominent local news outlets in New York City, to unionize with the guild. In an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, 25 of Gothamist/DNAinfo’s 27 editorial employees voted yes, the union announced.

The WGAE also represents digital news staffs at Vice, HuffPost, The Intercept, Gizmodo Media Group (Splinter, Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, The Root, Lifehacker, Kotaku, io9, Jalopnik, Earther), ThinkProgress, MTV News, Thrillist and Salon.

Both the WGAE and its West Coast counterpart, the WGAW, also represent some broadcast journalists. In addition, the Motion Picture Editors Guild represents Vice postproduction employees.

“The people who write and produce content for digital news companies have made it crystal clear that they believe collective bargaining is essential to building sustainable careers,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson. “The employees at DNAinfo and Gothamist have joined more than 700 of their colleagues in winning a voice on the job. We will form a strong, engaged bargaining committee to negotiate a contract that addresses their concerns and meets their needs.”

In March, DNAinfo, which is owned by conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, bought Gothamist and merged the two digital news outlets. When the editorial staffs soon after announced plans to unionize, management engaged in an anti-union campaign that included threats to employees’ jobs, according to the union. In response, over 25 of New York City’s top elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, wrote a letter supporting the unionization campaign.

Gothamist also owns local websites in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and Shanghai, with a franchised site in London and another site in Toronto. Ricketts and Gothamist publisher and co-founder Jake Dobkin did not respond to requests for comment.

“We look forward to working with management to come up with a contract that safeguards workers and ensures the editorial and financial future of both outlets,” the DNAinfo-Gothamist organizing committee added. “This vote came after a long campaign for voluntary recognition, and we want to thank everyone who supported our effort to protect the workers of DNAinfo and Gothamist, which have been widely recognized as indispensable to local and neighborhood news in New York City.”

Elsewhere in the media world, a campaign is ongoing to unionize the Los Angeles Times. That effort is being undertaken by the union once known as the Newspaper Guild, now called the NewsGuild-CWA, after a 1995 merger with the Communications Workers of America and a 2015 name change.

The NewsGuild represents workers at almost 300 media outlets and other entities, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, various California newspapers and several papers owned by L.A. Times parent tronc. Also represented by the NewsGuild are workers at a number of unions — including at the WGAE itself.