On August 13, journalists at Thrillist, a New York-based food and culture digital magazine, voted to strike to demand “living wages”. The IFJ fully supports this act, which is the very first strike among workers’ unions in the digital-born media industry.
The proposal for strike was passed by union members by a vote of 91% in favour, after about a year of frustrating contract negotiations with Thrillist’s parent company, Group Nine Media. Last February, 80% of the editorial staff of Thrillist announced they had founded a union. The union has since faced anti-union responses from the company’s managers, headed by Group Nine Media founder and CEO Ben Lerer. This group was reportedly valued at 600 million dollars in 2017.
Following a series of failed contract negotiations, the Thrillist staff ditched work on Monday as an act of unofficial strike, and went to the New York offices of the Writers Guild of America East, according to a report by VOX. There, they voted to authorise an official strike if the contract negotiations remain stagnant.
Workers have been upset about the dwindling minimum salary levels and annual increases.
The IFJ president, Philippe Leruth, has said: “It is encouraging to see union members in the digital-born media industry taking a step forward, putting real pressure on the company’s management to support on-going negotiations. Digital media workers need a common voice and strong unions to defend decent working conditions”.
The IFJ has also condemned Group Nine Media for its harsh response to unionization, as well as law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, representing the Company’s managers in the bargaining process, for its advice on hiring replacement workers under US federal laws, which would potentially lead to striking workers to lose their jobs.
The IFJ will be initiating campaigns on digital media unionisation in the near future.