Employees at the millennial-centric news site Mic.com on Tuesday announced their intention to form an editorial union with the New York NewsGuild chapter.
In a letter delivered Tuesday morning to co-founder Chris Altchek, organizers called on the company’s management to voluntarily recognize the legitimacy of a proposed 50-person editorial union, citing the liberal outlet’s own mandate to support economic and social justice.
“For decades, unions have embodied the values of fairness, empowerment and justice—the same values that guide Mic’s editorial principles,” organizers said in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast. “As our company continues to grow, we believe it is our responsibility to fight for these values.”
Mic’s would-be unionizers noted that the seven-year-old company has experienced a number of issues that have become all-too-familiar in digital media: Inconsistent job titles leading to pay disparities; lack of regularly scheduled raises; and what organizers see as lack of diversity—particularly a lack of women of color as reporters.
Staffers have responded enthusiastically to the proposed union.
According to Zach Howe, a member of the proposed union’s organizing committee, editorial employees have had serious conversations about forming a union for almost a year, and presented Tuesday’s letter to management with signatures from a “super-majority” of the editorial staff.
In a statement on Tuesday, a Mic.com company spokesperson said that the company was "in conversations and are keeping the best interest of our employees and the company in mind."
Mic.com’s editorial organizers joined a growing number of online millennial news outlets who have sought to form unions in recent years amid growing tumult in the digital media industry.
Editorial staff at Vice, the Huffington Post, Thrillist, and Vox Media all successfully unionized, while writers at outlets including BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, and CNN have all raised questions internally about whether their newsrooms should consider unionizing.
Mic.com has experienced much of the same upheaval as many other digital media organizations searching for revenue in a lackluster digital advertising market. The site laid off more than 20 staffers last year when it pivoted strategies to focus more on video.
The company claims the transition, which put greater emphasis on short videos starring “correspondents” and opinion videos, has helped boost revenue.
And in a memo to staff in December, Altchek said the company was looking to break even in 2018 without raising additional outside cash.
“Anticipating headwinds in the digital media market, we also made changes to get Mic on the road to profitability without needing to raise more money,” he wrote. “The recent trade press around the struggles of our peer companies shows us that we made the right decision.”