Fusion Staff Votes Overwhelmingly To Unionize

The union election ends workers' prolonged battle for recognition at the digital news outfit.
The newsroom for Univision and Fusion networks in Doral, Florida, on Aug. 28, 2013.
The newsroom for Univision and Fusion networks in Doral, Florida, on Aug. 28, 2013.

The editorial staff of Fusion voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the union announced Friday.

More than 90 percent of the 70 eligible Fusion staff members voted in favor of unionization in a two-day election, according to the Writers Guild. The election took place online on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fusion employees celebrated the outcome on Twitter. 

The vote marks the close of a prolonged battle for recognition that began in early October, when a majority of editorial staff members at the progressive-leaning multimedia news site and cable TV channel signed cards choosing the Writers Guild as their collective bargaining representative.

Fusion’s management refused to voluntarily recognize the union, however, trying to persuade employees in mandatory meetings that unionizing was against their interests.

Fusion employees leading the organizing drive pushed back, raising awareness of their cause with the #FusionUnion social media campaign and confronting management in letters that found their way into news stories.

Last week, the company and the union finally agreed to hold a union election, despite the fact that a majority of employees had already signaled their desire to join the union by completing cards.

In a statement lauding the election results, Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, alluded to that. 

“The creative professionals at Fusion’s digital operation have spoken decisively - twice - in favor of collective bargaining,” Peterson stated. “We will work closely with these hard-working professionals to ensure that their real needs are addressed in the workplace, and in a collective bargaining agreement.”

Fusion staff and the Writers Guild will now begin the long process of negotiating their first collectively bargained contract.

Fusion joins a wave of unionization that has swept the maturing digital media industry in the past two years.

Gawker Media, now known as Gizmodo Media Group and owned by Fusion’s parent company, Univision, kicked off the current unionization surge in June 2015, when its staff voted to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East.

Since then, many other digital sites have unionized, including Salon, Vice, ThinkProgress, Law 360 and The Guardian U.S.

The Huffington Post, which is also represented by the Writers Guild for America, East, became the largest such outlet to unionize when it won voluntary recognition from management in January.

Staff members of The Root, a small, African-American focused news site that’s also owned by Univision, signed union cards choosing the Writers Guild of America, East, as their collective bargaining representative on Oct. 26, but have yet to receive a response from management. 

Fusion employees reiterated their calls on Friday for management to voluntarily recognize The Root’s unionization.