Notes On A Game Website’s Successful Strike
So this just happened.
You must have seen it Kotaku and five subsidiaries owned by G/O Media went on strike last Tuesday, March 1st
We are back this week. It’s great to be back. Fighting for the best contract was a real challenge. And I got a front-row seat thanks to my membership on the union’s negotiating committee. Two years ago, I would not have known what a negotiating committee is. Of course, I was strongly pro-union, but I never had the opportunity to truly be in the union. To see it in action, until I joined it. Kotaku. But even then I didn’t really understand. That Union of media groups Gizmodo organized Writers Guild of America East took a small fee from every paycheck. And was invited to a special Slack just for Union business.
It seemed like not much happened there. I got the impression that some colleagues didn’t even check it regularly. For the most part, it has become a place to say goodbye to beloved colleagues when they leave the company. Which has become a depressingly frequent occurrence over the past two years. It was hard to blame them: working conditions at G/O Media were often harsh. And pastures elsewhere seemed much greener. But Union Slack has been slowly waking up from sleep over the past few months. As you can see, the contract governing our publications relationship with G/O Media was due to expire on February 28th. And then the negotiating committee intervened.
The task of the committee was to find out what rights and protections we, that is, all members of the GMG Union
Wanted to enshrine in the new contract, which we hope will come into force on March 1st. archived title page to see where we landed.) And then – under the expert guidance of an experienced Writers Guild negotiator and our Writers Guild business agent – we had to actually negotiate with G/O Media representatives who would be advocating for the company to come out with a final contract to which both parties can agree. Without going into details, the talks did not lead to an agreement ahead of schedule.
Time has run out and we haven’t seen evidence that a contract extension will inspire the company to be more generous. Therefore, the Union voted for a strike, starting March 1. I and two other members of the negotiating committee gladly accepted the Union’s offer to bring us to New York from our home states so that we could better participate in the strike and hopefully in future negotiations.
Come Tuesday KotakuThe front page has been lying fallow since we stopped producing content.
(We also asked readers to stop visiting so as not to cross the digital picket line.) But if you were on the street near the G/O headquarters near the Times square, you should have seen the raucous crowd Kotaku, Jezebel, Root, Gizmodo, Lifehackeras well as Jalopnik staff members – no, workers – are rioting and broadcasting their demands to the world through direct action.
We carried makeshift signs, chanted trade union slogans, beat makeshift drums, handed out leaflets to passers-by and beat a tambourine. The many hours of marching in a circle in almost frosty weather turned out to be surprisingly hard work. After my first full day of picketing with almost 20,000 steps, I felt like it was my first time hitting the gym since the pandemic began. (Actually, that particular milestone has not yet arrived.)
But the street only told half the story. Back at Slack, dozens of my co-workers, many scattered around the country, organized to get our message across to as many people as possible. The members of the negotiating committee Union GMG Twitter and created website, Kotaku began Streamingothers created TikToks as well as Instagram posts and storiesmade art, invited journalists, planned media appearancesexplored the opposition, organized GoFundMe to take care of the many workers suddenly unpaid…
It was incredibly inspiring to see what 80+ people can do when organized as a group.
In order to feel the mutual respect and care of the workers, many of them have recently awakened to their many communities, demonstrated both in words and deeds. I think as they say, consciousness has risen. I know mine was. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we picketed. On Friday we planned to hold a rally. Ironically, the day before, the G/O announced that due to late construction, the office would close on Friday and that everyone should work from home. It didn’t matter, the show had to go on, and with the stage, loudspeakers, and impassioned speakers championing our cause, we made a lot of noise.
A remarkable thing happened a little in the conversational part of the rally. Our WGAE union representative Arcee rushed on stage to interrupt the speaker and make an announcement: The company wants to resume negotiations with the negotiating committee, which takes effect immediately. Direct action brings results. If you do not take anything else from this article, take this. The rest is just more details. We haggled all night, made great progress in bringing both sides together, but reached a dead-end by 1:00 am. They haven’t moved forward on minimum wages and a number of other key requirements. It looks like we’ll picket again on Monday, but as our lead negotiator reminded us, a lot can happen in 48 hours.
On Saturday, the Union continued to plan its next escalation campaign –
We had some interesting tactics in the pipeline, including a trip to Boston, where our parent company Great Hill Partners is located – but around 10 a.m. on Sunday, an unexpected message came through. The company offered a settlement package that largely met our key requirements for which we were willing to fight. Acceptance was contingent on whether the unit returned to work on Monday. You noticed that we are back to work While I can’t speak for everyone in the Union. I think most of us are quite happy with the new contract. You can read the details of what we’ve won on the GMG Union website, but suffice it to say that we’ve just made significant strides in making G/O Media the best place for editorial creatives to get their work done. .
Had Gawker never organized in 2015 when he joined the Writers Guild of America,
East to form the first digital media union in history, we wouldn’t have been able to defend our rights so successfully last week (and make history ourselves by launching the first indefinite strike of a digital media store). When the “free market” leaves workers in the lurch, the unions make up for the slack. Here’s what we did last week, the week that also opened the 100th (and growing) Starbucks location. union recognition petition Major League Baseball players keep hagglingREI workers in the New York area.
Form the first ever trade union for this retail chainHershey’s chocolate workers holding a union voteas well as New York Times‘ technical workers announce the successful organization of their own ranks. I am delighted that we were able to take part in the nascent narrative of the resurgence of the organized workforce in the United States, and I am proud of my fellow editors throughout the division, whose solidarity was matched only by their discipline, camaraderie, and good humor.
And, of course, we must thank those of you, our readers, who respected our digital picket line
Sent words of support, and contributed to our (hugely successful!) strike fund. Thanks a lot. There is an old union that says that a victory for one is a victory for all, so we hope that the events of the past week will inspire other workers, especially in gaming and media, to take a closer look at the conditions in which they work and better understand the significant power that they possess when organized for collective action.
The gaming industry, in particular, is an extremely abusive area, which has become even more evident following last year’s disturbing revelations by Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, riot game, and other large companies. The organization of work is one of the potentially effective remedies for such ailments. As such, Kotaku will continue to stand in solidarity with pioneering groups such as Alliance of ABK Workersthat fights to right the wrongs of those in power at Activision Blizzard and create a better future for all of its employees. A better, more humane gaming industry is possible, but the bosses don’t have the will or drive to make it a reality. But if workers across the industry recognize their common interests and act together, real progress will finally be within reach. So what are we waiting for?