Digital Writers Union | Diversity
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Diversity

Unionizing a workplace is – in and of itself – a mechanism to diversify and democratize an industry. Union contracts typically improve and preserve important employment issues, including healthcare costs and equitable compensation, and unionized industries have less wage disparity. In addition to the benefits of a union contract, unionized workplaces have a democratic structure in place to support each other, share information, and strategize about how to address issues through collective action.

 

In a unionized workplace, union members come together to use their collective power to stand together in solidarity to address issues of justice. The fundamental difference between an organized and unorganized workplace is that in a union, members have a mechanism to unite and use their collective power to advocate for shared needs and exercise collective power to get those needs met.

 

While unionizing shifts the power dynamic in a workplace and industry, there are also ways in which WGAE members are explicitly addressing the issue of diversity. Generally speaking, the word “diversity” describes two concepts:

(1) Representation – A primary goal is achieving workplaces with enough demographic variety at all levels, including leadership, such that no one person has to bear the sole duty of representing a single group, and
(2) Power – Who gets to make decisions about which stories get told and how.

 

Across newsrooms and workplaces, members share common goals and concerns, including:

– Actively increasing the recruitment, retention, and mentorship of people traditionally underrepresented in media

– Sharing information and best practices in writing about specific issues and communities

– Examining and addressing pay equity and disparities along race and gender lines

 

Union members are addressing these issues in a variety of ways, including:

– Tracking demographic data

– Calling for unconscious bias trainings

– Actively participating in recruitment efforts, including a requirement to inform union diversity committee members of all open job positions

– Demanding clear answers from companies about what they are doing to support employees, regardless of immigration status

 

Industry-wide Organizing on Diversity

No one contract or worksite can address the structural, societal questions of diversity and oppression in isolation. While we seek to address workplace issues in contracts and shop floor organizing, we are also building an industry-wide network to change the industry over the long-term. By unionizing the industry, we will establish new networks to function as an alternative to the existing power structures and industry “pipelines” that impact who gets what job, who gets promoted, and who gets to tell what stories.

Digital Media Leadership Dinner

On August 16, 2017 union leaders and activists from across the digital media industry gathered to share information, resources, and brainstorm next steps for an industry-wide initiative in digital media.

 Skeletons in the Closet Panel

After the summer dinner, several members continued meeting to organize and plan an event. On October 23, the panel “Skeletons in the Closet” featured Julianne Escobedo Shepherd (Culture Editor, Jezebel), Messiah Rhodes (AP/Host VICELAND), and James Michael Nichols (Queer Voices Deputy Editor, HuffPost), with moderator Kim Kelly (Editor, Noisey/VICE) to discuss the issues in digital media that need to be brought to light: diversity and inclusiveness, solidarity and strategies for success, and the future of our work. Questions and topics included:

– In terms of your personal professional development, what strategies or tactics have you used to navigate the still overwhelmingly white, straight, and male media?

– What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever been given?

– What do we mean when we say “diverse”—what does it mean to actually have a diverse workplace? What does real diversity look like?

– What’s an example of how organizing your workplace and negotiating a contract addressed a diversity issue?

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