Vox Media’s network of websites, including The Verge, Polygon, Vox, and others, are in the midst of a day-long staff walkout, an unprecedented show of force by the Vox Media staff union as negotiations for a contract with management reach their final day.
“We have decided we’re not showing up to work today until we resolve these issues,” Vox Media Union’s Twitter account said, pointing to negotiation issues like wage scales, raises, severance, and Vox Media’s increasing reliance on subcontracting work. Vox and its union have been negotiating on this contract for fourteen months, a tense process that has as of yet failed to reach an agreement.
As of this morning, Vox.com and Curbed have not published a single new story. Polygon’s new articles seem to be authored by freelancers (likely previously scheduled to go up today) and top-level editors. Eater’s new articles today are published under an “Eater Staff” byline. SB Nation’s main staff seem to be not publishing today, although the site’s vast network of fan blogs appears to be trucking along unaffected. Only The Verge seems to be publishing articles by its regular reporters.
In an email to staff, published by Bloomberg, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff said he was “disappointed” by the walkout. He also seemed to dismiss some of the union’s demands, saying “while paying people a lot more than market wages sounds great on the surface, it’s not realistic or smart.”
We’ve seen a massive shift towards unionization in the digital media industry over the past few years, beginning with Gawker Media all the way back in 2015. Since then, we haven’t seen an example of collective action quite as bold as what the employees of Vox Media are doing today, although Slate employees came close to a full on strike last year.
I’ll be following this story throughout the day to see where it goes.