Gawker Media took a crucial step to becoming the first unionized online-only media outlet this week when editorial employees voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East.
Yesterday’s votes were cast electronically and tallied by VoteNet, an independent online voting system. Out of 118 eligible voters, 107 cast votes. The results are:
Yes: 80 votes—75% No: 27 votes—25%
Next, Gawker writers will need to draft a contract with the guild to negotiate with the management before voting on their collective contract as a union.
Gawker founder and president Nick Denton has publicly nodded in approval at the movement to organize.
“We know, from our experience of online flame wars, that contention is usually counterproductive,” Denton told Capital New York.
Steven Greenhouse, ex-labor reporter for the New York Times, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Gawker’s union drive was a watershed moment in digital media:
If the unionization effort succeeds, it will be a big PR boost for the ailing labor movement. It will show that unions, which have focused in recent years on organizing low-wage workers, can also attract hip, highly educated workers, many of them Ivy League graduates.
But if Gawker staffers reject the union, it will be an embarrassing blow to labor, especially because so much of the Gawker debate has been out in the open.