The Onion Union has authorized an Unfair Labor Practice strike, if parent company G/O Media refuses a new bargaining agreement prior to their current contact expiring on Jan. 31.
The strike authorized in conjunction with The Writers Guild of America East, was approved by 97% of The Onion Union membership voting yes. Additionally, The WGAE’s Online Media Council members unanimously approved the strike.
If a ULP strike is officially called on Jan. 31, pickets in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City will begin on Feb. 1.
The guild includes creative staff at The Onion, The A.V. Club, Deadspin, and The Takeout, and represents members based in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
“We do not take the decision to go on an open-ended ULP strike lightly, but we have to take a stand for what is just,” the union said in a statement. “Our demands are reasonable and well within the budget of G/O Media and its private equity owners Great Hill Partners, who made an estimated $44 million in revenue in 2023.”
The statement continued, “Management has the ability to reach a fair agreement with our union before our current contract expires that allows us to afford to live in the cities where we work and provides us with basic assurances for job security.”
“Guild members have shown that they are not afraid to strike for what they deserve,” WGAE Vice President of Online Media Sara David said in a statement. “If a ULP strike is called on January 31, we march forward knowing the entire Guild membership stands in solidarity with The Onion Union as they fight to win a fair contract from G/O Media.”
The guild is seeking contracts that include staffer protections in the event of the sale of the company, improved severance offerings, and basic protections from AI.
In June, G/O Media encountered intense staff backlash after announcing it would be rolling out AI-generated content for some of its sites.
The union filed ULP charges against G/O Media for “bargaining in bad faith when the Employer engaged in threatening and intimidating behavior, made threats to cancel agreed upon release time for bargaining committee members, unilaterally canceled previously agreed upon in-person negotiations with the Union, and failed to proffer management representatives with the authority to reach an agreement.”
The Onion Union also highlighted G/O Media’s tendency for inconsistent business strategy, noting the “constant turnover among its leadership and mass editorial resignations.” The Union also highlighted the shuttering of Jezebel in 2023 and Splinter in 2019, as an example of poor leadership and business direction.
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