Following successful union drives at Vice, the former Gawker Media, Salon, the Huffington Post, and others, the staffers of MTV News have announced their intent to organize with the Writers Guild of America, East. According to an MTV staffer who spoke with HuffPo, more than 80 percent of eligible staffers signed union cards signaling their support for joining the WGAE.
In a letter explaining its rationale for unionizing, MTV’s organizing committee expressed hope that a union would act as a bulwark against attacks on the press from president Donald Trump. Via The Wrap:
“Our work requires us to cover culture and politics in an increasingly volatile climate,” the letter reads. “Under the new Trump administration, we are acutely aware of how necessary our constitutional rights are, and how much we need legal protection. We need MTV News to protect our right to freedom of the press, so that we can remain committed to reporting without fear of retribution.”
The letter also calls for more commonly expressed aims for a union, such as healthcare for all editorial staffers and standardized pay rates and severance packages.
The next step is for MTV’s parent company Viacom to either recognize the union voluntarily or hold an election, moderated by the National Labor Relations Board, in which all eligible employees would be compelled to vote. “It’s relatively rare to encounter a situation in which what is morally right is also what is practically expedient, and I think we’ve found ourselves in that situation,” MTV staffer and organizing committee member Teo Bugbee told HuffPo. “That’s one of the foundational reasons we’ve moved forward with this union.”