Medium and Daily Kos Organize with CWA
They follow a long line of digital workers who are organizing for a stronger voice in their workplaces
Over the last few months, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have been organizing workers in the digital space. UCOMM previously reported on their efforts through CODE-CWA to organize workers at Google. Now CODE-CWA has announced that workers at Medium are joining their union.
The workers at Medium, an online blogging site, announced that they are joining CWA Local 9410, CODE-CWA because they believe tech and media companies are at a crossroads. With newsroom buyouts, startups folding, tech companies moving more jobs to contractors, and the implosion of independent media, the Medium workers felt that they needed a voice at work. Unlike some other digital media platforms where only the writers organized, at Medium the entire staff including the engineering, editorial, design, and product departments all joined to form one union. The unit would include about 140 people.
After announcing their organizing effort, the workers asked that management voluntarily recognize the union and commit to participating in a good faith relationship and bargaining with the workers. When CNN Business asked management if they would recognize the union, a company spokesperson issued a statement saying "This is an important matter that merits thoughtful consideration, and we are assessing the appropriate next steps.”
In a theme similar to many tech organizing efforts, workers at Medium said they weren’t organizing because of one specific issue like low pay, but rather as a way to gain a larger voice within the company.
"Medium is a workplace like any other where there are imperfections, there are issues, but we're not running to this initiative with a set of established demands," said Kelli María Korducki, senior editor at Forge, a Medium publication. "The priority is really to unite the workforce."
Another Medium worker, Lyra Naeseth who is a principal software engineer, told CNN that their goal was "to alleviate the systemic imbalance in our workplace." She went on to highlight how management stands together to talk about values and plans for the company and with a union, the workers will get a voice in those values and plans.
The CWA also announced that employees at the progressive news site Daily Kos have organized and formed the Daily Kos Guild. Daily Kos has about 80 staffers nationwide and they will join the Pacific Media Workers Guild/CWA Local 39521. They also asked management to voluntarily recognize their union, which management agreed to do.
"Daily Kos, as a progressive organization, touts the ideals of labor rights and worker power, and we strongly agree," said Guild member Ntebo Mokuena. "But we believe these values can and should be better reflected and infused into every part of the work we do. During these difficult times, and as we look towards the future, we must ensure that our work remains sustainable and puts workers first."
The workers at Medium and Daily Kos become just the latest in online news and blogging sites that have organized since 2016. Others include Gawker which was the first, HuffPost, Salon, Slate, Vice, BuzzFeed News, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, Wirecutter and The Ringer. Other “legacy” media organizations with a growing digital footprint like Hearst Magazines, Wired, The New Yorker, and the digital arms of NBC News and MTV News have also organized over the last five years.