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MTV News Staff Seeks to Unionize With Writers Guild East, Citing Trump

Variety logo Variety 2/3/2017 Dave McNary
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The editorial staff at MTV News is attempting to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East.

“MTV News is an icon and its editorial staff speak to, and for, America’s diverse and connected youth,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East. “In an age when independent voices are more essential than ever, we are heartened that these digital news creators recognize collective bargaining is the most effective way to protect those voices and to address critical issues like transparency in compensation and other policies, reasonable benefits for all, and an inclusive workplace.”

The WGA East has been focused on becoming the collective bargaining representative for New York-based digital news sites in recent years. The guild represents editorial staffs at Huffington Post, Vice, Gizmodo Media Group, Fusion, the Root, ThinkProgress, and Salon.

The guild said there are about 50 employees in the proposed MTV News unit with 80% of those having signed cards agreeing to be repped by the WGA East. The MTV News Unionizing Committee has sent a letter to their colleagues entitled “MTV News Is Organizing.”

“There has never been a more critically important time in our lives to have the protections of a union, especially for those of us in media,” the committee said. “And there’s never been a more necessary time for MTV News to talk about music, pop culture, and politics with the teenagers of America. We need to do more than just pay our respects to the past. We need a seat at the table so that we can be the future of MTV News.”

The organizing committee said that key issues in the unionization campaign include “full” healthcare and benefits, legal protection, editorial communication, transparency, diversity, and guidelines for salaries and severance. The group noted that staffers require legal protection due to the administration of President Donald Trump.

“Our work requires us to cover culture and politics in an increasingly volatile climate,” the committee said. “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.”

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