Los Angeles Times newsroom employees made history by voting 248–44 to be represented by the NewsGuild—the first newsroom union in the paper's 136-year history.
The vote at the Times is part of a larger trend that has been going on in recent years where folks in newsrooms that are digital or have a strong digital presence have been exercising their freedom to come together in union.
Approximately 400 employees at Vox Media recently voted to be represented by Writers Guild of America, East, and the company voluntarily recognized the union. The union organizing committee at Vox said: "Through voluntary recognition, Vox Media has joined the growing ranks of digital media companies that understand the necessity of unions to secure basic protections for those of us who work in an always-evolving industry. A union will give us the means to maintain what we love about working for this company, and to have a collective voice when we address anything that may change."
The wave of digital media companies unionizing gained momentum in 2015, when the now-defunct Gawker Media joined numerous other digital companies that recognized unions and ratified contracts, including Vice Media, ThinkProgress and HuffPost. More recently, writers and editors at a number of other digital publications have affiliated with WGAE and currently are in contract negotiations, among them The Intercept, Salon, Thrillist and MTV News.
Some of the owners of these organizations have fought unionization at their company. Joe Rickets, owner of New York-based sites Gothamist and DNAinfo, shut both websites down rather than recognize employees' right to organize. But those exceptions to the trend haven't slowed down working people who recognize the importance of organizing.
Kim Kelly, an editor at Vice Media, explained it: "People were fed up and broke and anxious about the future, and the union gave them a way to take control and force things to change."
Daniel Marans, a reporter at HuffPost, said that digital media publications need to grow with a changing digital workplace: "That comes to things like transparency on pay, having a decent pay scale that allows a ladder of sustainability where you can support yourself on such an income, and having due process and a guarantee of severance in the case of layoffs."
As the most recent votes at the Los Angeles Times and Vox show us, the trend of organizing at digital publications will continue to grow.