The following article is one of those news items that doesn’t seem to mean much at the time but which will – TVWriter™ predicts! – be seen as a portent of the future in, you know, the future.
In other words, this is “The One Where the Writers Guild of America Recognizes, Accepts, and Opens Its Arms Wide to Audio Writers!” Wonder how much the writing minimums are going to be.
by Caroline O’Donovan
The 83-person staff of Gimlet Media, a podcasting startup acquired by music streaming service Spotify for $230 million in February, is unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
Gimlet was founded in 2014 and produces popular podcasts including Reply All, StartUp, and Crimetown.
“As Spotify’s reported $230 million acquisition of Gimlet makes clear, however, Gimlet is no longer the small, scrappy operation memorably documented on the first season of ?StartUp,” the Gimlet organizing committee wrote in a statement published Wednesday. “Our union is an expression of passion for what we do, and a proactive effort to work with management to shape the future of the company. It’s important for us to solidify the things that make Gimlet a great place to work, and to address whatever issues may arise.”
Among the issues Gimlet’s union says it plans to focus on are fair treatment of contractors, workplace diversity, employee intellectual property, and transparency around pay, promotions, and termination.
Employees, 75% of whom signed union cards in support of the organizing campaign, are asking management to voluntarily recognize their union, which they say will include content creation roles such as producers, engineers, reporters, and hosts on both the branded and editorial sides of the company. The union will not include managers or sales and marketing staff.
In a wave of media labor organizing over the last year, companies including the New Yorker and New York magazine voluntarily recognized employee unions, while other efforts, such as the Los Angeles Times employees’ successful National Labor Relations Board election, have been more contentious. Gimlet is now owned by a public tech company, though, and union drives within the tech industry are much less common. Still, companies including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Salesforce have seen increasing employee activism over political issues and working conditions.
A spokesperson for Gimlet said the company has “received a formal notice from the WGAE union and plan to review” but had “nothing further to report at this time.”
The WGAE, which represents a number of other digital media properties, including Vox, Vice, HuffPost, and Gizmodo Media Group, said Gimlet is the first podcasting company to join the union.
“Podcasting is one of the most exciting new media platforms for storytelling and Gimlet is at the forefront of creating compelling content,” WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said in a press release. ”We welcome the people in this field into our Guild, where we will work to ensure they are afforded rights and protections like those won by other content creators working in film, television, news and new media….”