Dozens of left-wing journalists are on strike Tuesday after negotiations broke down over a new union contract for G/O Media employees. The previous contract negotiated by the Gizmodo Media Group Union, which represents the newsroom workers at six websites—Gizmodo, Jezebel, Lifehacker, The Root, Kotaku, and Jalopnik—expired at midnight.
"In 2015, this union broke new ground when it organized the first digital media union," the organization said in a statement. "Now, GMG Union will break ground yet again: We are the first digital media shop to go on an open-ended strike for a fair contract."
The union listed the concerns of the striking workers on its website. For example, it denounced G/O Media for refusing to "codify the widely accepted … standards of care for our trans and gender-expansive colleagues," as outlined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and for proposing a salary increase "for our lowest paid colleagues—and no one else" during a time of "unprecedented inflation" under President Joe Biden.
Employees were also critical of management's reluctance to fund "a robust diversity hiring initiative" without first consulting the "Diversity Committee" or to allow the journalists to work from home indefinitely. The union has demanded "protection from forced relocations to the NYC office," which is fair enough because New York City is a terrible place to live. The union's suggestion that management was "offering inadequate family leave," however, received pushback even from supporters of the strike.
"Support everything here, but describing 12 weeks of parental leave as ‘scant' and ‘not enough time to recover from a live birth' is something," wrote one sympathizer on Twitter, the social networking website. "Former is in line with most of the world (and generous in the US) and the latter contradicts a quick Google search."
In fact, the 12 weeks of "gender-neutral parental leave" included in the union's most recent contract was cited by supporters in 2019 as an example of how unions are "reducing inequalities" in the journalism industry.
The vote to strike was unanimous, with 93 percent of union members participating. On Tuesday morning, the striking employees protested in front of the G/O Media headquarters in New York City. The union has advised supporters "not to click on" or "contribute content to" the websites it represents. "Don't be a scab," read one of the signs spotted at the protest.
The GMG Union created a GoFundMe page to support the striking journalists. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $25,000, exceeding its initial goal of $15,000.