The leaders of a unionization effort at the news outlet Fusion are rallying colleagues behind union membership in response to opposition from the company’s management.
“It’s not unusual for a company to resist the will of its employees, but we expected more from Fusion,” the Fusion Union Organizing Committee wrote in a letter to editorial staff. “We firmly stand behind our mission statement ― a clear progressive vision ― and hoped our company would stand with us.”
They invited staff to join a meeting at the headquarters of the Writers Guild of America, East, in Manhattan to discuss the organizing drive and field questions and concerns about it.
“We believe the intent of the management’s response was to discourage and divide us,” the committee wrote in explaining the rationale behind an in-person meeting. “But we agree that this process must be inclusive and transparent.”
The organizing committee announced in an open letter to staff on Wednesday that a majority of the online editorial staff had signed cards designating the Writers Guild of America, East, as their representative in negotiations with Fusion. (The news site and cable TV channel, which is geared toward younger consumers, is owned by Univision.)
The staff members encouraged their fellow workers to join the union as well, which they argued will secure better pay and working conditions, and is consistent with Fusion’s progressive-leaning reporting.
Fusion executives Boris Gartner and Danny Eilemberg responded with a letter of their own announcing plans to try to persuade employees not to form a union.
“At the end of that process, we think you will agree that Guild representation would not be beneficial for you or FUSION,” Gartner and Eilemberg said in the letter, which BuzzFeed obtained.
In its message to colleagues on Thursday, the Fusion Union Organizing Committee noted that the management at other major digital outlets, including The Huffington Post, Vice, Salon and The Guardian have not engaged in similar anti-union campaigns. The collection of sites that were formerly part of Gawker Media, but are now owned by Univision, also unionized without incident.
Some other digital journalists seeking union recognition in the industry’s recent wave have also faced resistance, however. Management at Law 360 hired union avoidance consultants to make anti-union presentations to staff before a secret union election. In August, the staff nonetheless voted to join the NewsGuild, a labor union that represents both digital media workers and journalists at more traditional news outlets.
Here is the complete text of the Fusion Union Organizing Committee’s Thursday letter:
While we are incredibly excited about our decision to unionize, we wanted to address the email we received yesterday from Danny and Boris. We publicly announced our union drive with a strong majority of our colleagues having already signed cards, and it’s because of that clear mandate that we’re so disappointed to see management’s reaction.
It’s not unusual for a company to resist the will of its employees, but we expected more from Fusion. We firmly stand behind our mission statement—a clear progressive vision—and hoped our company would stand with us.
We are unionizing because, as our organizing letter states, we want Fusion to practice what it preaches when it comes to workers’ rights. A union will make our colleagues and our company stronger.
Just to be clear, Fusion’s response is outside the norm of other digital news outlets whose employees have organized in the past two years. Executives at Vice, Salon, ThinkProgress, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and our sister sites within Gizmodo Media Group all respected their employees’ right to organize by remaining neutral and recognizing the unions.
A company that respects their workers’ right to collectively bargain allows its employees to decide on who should be in the union. We are the majority, and we ask Fusion to respect that by voluntarily recognizing our union and meeting us at the bargaining table.
We believe the intent of the management’s response was to discourage and divide us. But we agree that this process must be inclusive and transparent. In that spirit, we are holding a town hall meeting at the WGAE office at 250 Hudson Street on xxxxxxx at x x.m. EST so that the full unit, including those who haven’t yet signed cards, can ask questions, share concerns, and make their voices heard. (If you’d like to sign a digital card, you can do so here.)
We will be setting up a conference call for remote employees as well. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of us will get in touch.
Excited for next steps!
The Fusion Organizing Committee
Disclosure: The author is a member of the bargaining committee with the WGA-E currently in negotiation with The Huffington Post.