Salon Staff, NBC Promo Writers Ratify Contracts With Writers Guild East

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The union keeps organizing digital news shops.

Two contracts in two days; three contracts in a week: The Writers Guild of America East has been having a busy time, and the month is just half over.

On Wednesday, the guild announced that writers at Salon had unanimously ratified their first collective bargaining agreement, marking the union’s seventh contract in digital media. The day before, the union said that promo writers for WNBC and NBC News had also unanimously ratified a collective bargaining agreement. The announcements came a week after a similar announcement regarding writers at Thrillist.

“Our collective bargaining agreement with Salon marks the Guild’s seventh contract in digital media,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson. “We are pleased to finalize a collective bargaining agreement with one of the pioneers in digital journalism, a company that is committed to continuing its important mission in changed times.”

The Salon deal covers 12 employees. According to Peterson, it includes minimums and guaranteed across-the-board increases for all employees, based on the average pay, which he said will further reduce inequality among colleagues. In addition, the agreement includes just cause, a process for terminations and guaranteed severance.

“We want to thank the Guild and our valued employees for working with us productively to craft an agreement that allowed protections for all parties in a challenging economic environment of digital journalism,” said Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner.

Added the Salon bargaining committee: “We are proud to have achieved a fair and hard-fought contract at Salon, which was the result of the collective action of our colleagues. It is our hope that other media organizations will follow and demonstrate unequivocally that the people who work tirelessly in media are valued and deserve basic protections. The industry grows stronger with each union contract and we are proud to be a part of this movement.”

Regarding NBC, Peterson said, “We are pleased that the company recognized the value of all of the employees in the unit, who remained united throughout the negotiations.”

The NBC Promo Writers bargaining committee added, “In an environment that’s so anti-union, we are pleased that NBC Universal signed a contract with the Writers Guild of America, East recognizing our value as a union.”

An NBC spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The three-year agreement covers 15 people who write and produce broadcast promotional materials for news programming such as News 4 New York, Megyn Kelly Today, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press. The agreement includes 2% annual increases retroactive to April, a $2,000 bonus for certain personnel, increases for daily hires and contributions to the union health and pension plans.

In addition to Salon and Thrillist, the WGAE represents over 1,000 creative professionals at digital news shops including Vox Media, VICE, Onion Inc., HuffPost, The Intercept, Slate, ThinkProgress, The Dodo, Fast Company, Talking Points Memo, MTV News and Gizmodo Media Group, as well as film and television writers east of the Mississippi.