January 30, 2017 | 11:14AM PT
The editorial staff at the Huffington Post has ratified its first collective bargaining agreement in a near unanimous vote.
The employees are represented by the Writers Guild of America East, which has made a major push to unionize digital media news staffs in recent years.
“When we decided to unionize at HuffPost, we had a lot of concerns we wanted to tackle: editorial autonomy, newsroom diversity, fair and transparent pay, and job security,” the bargaining committee said. “We’re happy to say we’ve achieved a contract that addresses all that and more. This agreement is going to improve the lives of many of our peers, and make HuffPost an even better place to do great journalism.”
The guild said the new collective bargaining agreement includes major gains on pay, protections of journalistic integrity, and a platform for the editorial staff to have an ongoing voice on the job. The contract guarantees that no unit member will receive less than a 3 percent per year increase. There are 214 members in the unit.
The deal also includes language protecting the integrity of members’ editorial work, ensuring that editorial employees cannot be assigned to work on branded content or native advertising, and protecting editorial content from interference by advertisers, sponsors, and business partners. Additionally, the pact contains a just cause provision for discipline and discharge, with specific provisions relating to editorial work product that require the company to provide notice and an opportunity to improve.
The deal also includes guaranteed severance in the event of layoffs or termination for editorial issues – two months’ pay plus one week per year of service, and company-paid medical benefits for that entire period.
“This landmark agreement demonstrates that collective bargaining works,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East.
“Our large and engaged negotiating committee worked tirelessly to communicate the real concerns of WGAE-represented employees, and the company’s bargaining team was respectful and responsive. We are building a strong movement of digital journalists in perilous times. The writers, editors and producers at The Huffington Post have achieved real gains by unionizing, and there are now 500 digital journalists covered by WGAE-negotiated contracts.”
The guild represents editorial staffs at Vice, Gizmodo Media Group, Fusion, the Root, ThinkProgress, and Salon.