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Unstoppable Reporter Pushes Politico to Unionize

Elk wants to follow in footsteps of Pro-Satan publication

Mike Elk / gofundme.com posting
Mike Elk / gofundme.com posting
• July 2, 2015 2:10 pm

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Update 3:15 P.M.: A previous version of this story said that Elk had only written six stories for Politico since his September hiring. He has written seven. We regret the error.

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Politico Pro Labor reporter Mike Elk renewed his effort to unionize the Arlington-based publication after Salon joined the Writers Guild on Thursday.

Elk, who has written just seven pieces since joining Politico Pro’s labor vertical in September, emailed his colleagues on Thursday morning urging them to organize.

The email bore the subject line, "Salon Unanimously Chooses to Unionize – Now Its Our Turn!" (sic) and drew inspiration from the pro-Satan publication famous for declaring basketball a "white privilege" sport and Mother’s Day "triggering."

"Since the successful drive at Gawker, unions that represent media workers have initiated campaigns at half dozen outlets and  Now, its our time to help make history. In doing so not only would we help ourselves, but help make POLITICO the type of publication where workers want to stay for their entire careers because the working conditions are so good. These our chances to take POLITICO to the next level!" (sic throughout) Elk said in the email.

Elk told his colleagues that joining a union would help lighten the workload at the publication and ensure that "we could have a clear scheduling system…balancing the needs of our personal lives with the needs of our professional lives."

A Washington Free Beacon review of the website’s archives found that Elk has written just one piece since January.

"Sure the snack bar is great, but a union contract would be even sweeter!" he said. "At my last publication, I was in a union and up until we lost a major grant, it was the absolute best work environment in which I was ever employed."

Before being hired by Adam Levine’s uncle, Timothy Noah, Elk worked at pro-union publication In These Times.

Elk attached a copy of a press release circulated by Salon and the Writers Guild of America East, the union that was also elected by Gawker in June.

"We’re especially proud to work for a media organization that has championed progressive values for nearly twenty years," the release said. "We also fervently believe that an employee union is in the best interests of Salon, in the short and long term, and will yield benefits of many kinds. It will solidify Salon’s position as a progressive leader, generate tremendous employee goodwill, and transform the workplace environment in positive ways."

Elk said it’s time for Politico to play catch up.

"Media workers across the digital media industry are making historic gains in giving media workers a voice on the job and now its our turn to join in the fun!" Elk said. "Solidarity, Melk" (sic).

Elk said that the response thus far has been "positive." He also confirmed that he is already in talks with the union.

"We are opening people's minds and getting them to think. This is gonna be a long drive but I've promised the newspaper guild to stay for as long as it takes. We're gonna win this one!" Elk said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon.

Several staff members told the Washington Free Beacon on background that Elk exaggerates his support in the office.

"I don't detect any real support for his efforts," one current Politico reporter said.

Published under: Unions