The Gizmodo Media Group Union, whose members include such outlets as Kotaku and Gizmodo, has gone on strike, demanding to see such changes in their workplaces as the introduction of transgender healthcare benefits for employees and more diversity efforts from corporate leadership.
Unionized writers of Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and The Root announced their strike intention on March 1st, explaining on their official website, “Since January 31, the Gizmodo Media Group Union (GMG Union) and G/O’s Media’s outside counsel have met five times. Every session, the company’s outside counsel sidestepped and delayed, refusing to provide written counterproposals to the union’s good-faith proposals.”
“How can you bargain a contract when the people across the table won’t even clearly state what they’re advocating for?” the union asked.
The group then noted, “We have not made this choice to strike lightly,” before proceeding to list the various “company proposals we’re fighting.”
These six allegations began with the accusation that Gizmodo was “Endangering Our Healthcare,” with the union claiming that “Management insists on removing all guarantees that our current healthcare benefits and cost-sharing will continue.”
Further, they said, “Management doesn’t want to codify the widely accepted WPATH standards [World Professional Association for Transgender Health] of care for our trans and gender-expansive colleagues.”
The group then alleged that Gizmodo Media was “Lowballing salaries during unprecedented inflation,” as “After a year of unprecedented inflation, management proposed raising the minimum salary tier for our lowest paid colleagues—and no one else. Management’s insistence on offering new hires the minimum tier negatively affects our recruitment and talent retention.”
The company was also accused of “Offering inadequate family leave,” with the union claiming that “management’s proposal limits parental leave.”
“GMG Union wants enough time for a birthing parent to heal, or an adoptive or foster parent to acclimate their child to a new home,” they added.
The GMG Union also took issue with Gizmodo Media’s “insisting on [a] return to [the] office,” specifically noting that they wished to continue working-from-home as they had done during the lockdown orders.
“After producing years of journalism from our homes to great success, management refuses to add work-from-home flexibility into the contract,” the group continued. “Even though return-to-office plans were twice delayed due to COVID variant spikes.”
Further, the union stated that their leadership was “kicking diversity efforts down the road,” a supposed decision which led the group to demand “a robust diversity hiring initiative with the budget to back it up.”
“Rather than codify this in our contract, management wants to punt further discussions about possible diversity efforts to our Diversity Committee,” they added.
Finally, the union alleged that Gizmodo Media are “threatening possible forced relocations,” particularly in relation tor remote-work employees hired during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of our colleagues were remote workers before COVID-19 changed our lives, and management refuses to codify their remote positions,” the union said. “GMG Union insists on protection from forced relocations to the NYC office.”
At this time of writing, a GoFundMe campaign campaign seeking $55,000 for striking employees “who will suffer financial duress from this interruption to their normal pay and benefits” has raised roughly $10,000 over their original goal across 977 donations.
On Twitter, GMG Union representative Tom McKay shared a video showing at least thirteen writers chanting “hey-hey, ho-ho, corporate greed has got to go,” as they protested in the streets outside of Gizmodo Media’s offices.
— Tom FAIR CONTRACT NOW McKay (@thetomzone) March 1, 2022
Another GMG Union member, The Root writer Murjani Rawls, spoke to Curbed about the protest, elaborating that one other reason for the protest was the union’s wish to limit in-office time to four days a week.
In addition, those on the picket line claimed to Curbed that Gizmodo Media CEO Jim Spanfeller was not seen in the office on the day of the protest.
In late 2019- amid G/O Media writers being critical of management mostly being rich white men interfering with their work and auto-playing ads on their websites- subsidiary Deadspin had told writers to focus on sports.
After Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky pinned non-sports stories to the top of Deadspin’s website he was fired, followed by other rebellious acts by staff, and the entire writing staff quitting.Are the GMG Union’s demands just? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.