Smartest Thinkers Demand Union

Vox employees hope to follow Gawker (RIP), DNAInfo (RIP) into Writers Guild


The "smartest thinkers" asking "the toughest questions" are rallying to organize a union to boost pay for those asking in the news today.

An organizing committee tied to the Writers Guild East announced that it had received a majority of support from Vox's more than 300 editorial employees from the company's eight websites, including Vox, SB Nation, and Recode among others. The committee hopes that the company will recognize the union without the use of a secret ballot election by accepting signed petitions from workers.

The organizing committee said a union is necessary to ensure the liberal website lives by its "forward-thinking values" while safeguarding workers' ability to share in the company's good fortune.

"By organizing, we intend to protect the nimble culture and inclusive, forward-thinking values that make this company great, and to ensure all concerns and challenges can be addressed by a collective voice," it said on its website. "Vox Media will eventually buy or sell properties, engage with investors and advertisers, and perhaps discipline or lay off employees. In any such case, we want to preserve our benefits, to ensure our fair share of capital, and to protect individuals and their work from forces outside their control."

The committee also alluded to the recent dismissal of a manager accused of sexual harassment. It said a union would ensure diversity in promotion talks.

"We seek a continued commitment to hiring inclusively, a focus on promoting people of color within the company, and formal processes for addressing when company culture fails to reflect these values," it says.

Vox is the latest digital media company to form a labor union. Vice and the web empire formerly know as Gawker each voted to join the Writers Guild in recent years. Unionization has posed a quandary for liberal websites in the past with labor sympathizers accusing resistant companies of hypocrisy for contesting organizing campaigns.

Media Matters for America sparked intense backlash from liberals in 2014 after management refused to approve a card check campaign from the guild, even as it published articles advocating against secret ballot elections.

Vox published an article declaring that collective bargaining through a labor union should be considered a constitutional right in a Labor Day post. The opinion article argued that the decline in unionization has harmed the well being of American workers thanks to a judicial system that favors employers.

"Researchers have shown that nearly half of the decline in middle-class incomes is due to the shrinking rates of unionization," the op-ed said. "Unions and their allies should challenge unequal restrictions on free speech and assembly as the violations of workers’ constitutional rights that they are."

Vox did not respond to request for comment about whether it would accept a card check campaign.

Some staffers supporting the union emphasized that they are satisfied with Vox's working conditions. Writer Charlotte Wilder said she is more concerned with the instability of the journalism industry than she is with her employer.

Vox ‘s unionization drive comes weeks after another digital journalism start-up folded amid newsroom unionization. Locally focused news sites DNAInfo and Gothamist ceased operations shortly after their staff voted to join the Writers Guild East. Owner Peter Ricketts ‘ cited increasing costs and lack of profitability for the decision to lay off all staff members.

The Writers Guild did not respond to request for comment.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is

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