We’ve decided to form a union here at Onion Inc., home of The A.V. Club and our sister sites The Onion and ClickHole. First, all of The A.V. Club staff, along with an overwhelming majority of Onion Inc. staff, signed cards signaling our desire to unionize. Then we made it official on Monday when we requested formal recognition from our management. The new union comprises all of the creative staffs at Onion Inc.: The A.V. Club, The Onion, ClickHole, The Takeout, Onion Labs, and Onion Inc.’s video and art departments.
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We’re joining an impressive cadre of other digital media shops that have unionized in the past few years under The Writers Guild Of America, East. The WGAE represents our corporate sister sites of the Gizmodo Media Group (which includes Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, and all of the other sites you see in the navigation bar at the top of this page), in addition to media outlets including Vice, Vox, HuffPost, Salon, MTV News, Thrillist, and ThinkProgress. It also represents writing staff at comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
Pasted below is the letter we sent to Onion Inc. and Univision management. (Univision Communications Inc. acquired a minority stake in Onion Inc. in 2016.) Please note that tweets and comments structured “Not a joke: The Onion has unionized,” “Area satire site unionizes,” and so on have been done to death.
Onion Inc.’s Groveling, Ungrateful Staffers Unionize
Onion Inc. is unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. By organizing, we intend to protect the culture and values that make Onion Inc. a singularly great place to work and establish a formal means by which the employees have a collective and meaningful voice in our workplace. We’ve seen the positive effects of unions across digital media newsrooms, especially at our Gizmodo Media Group sister sites, and believe Onion Inc. will similarly benefit.
As we continue to work with Univision and Fusion Media Group, we are unionizing to establish transparency and open communication around the high-level decisions being made that affect Onion Inc. A union will ensure that Onion Inc. remains a place that attracts and retains talented people, upholds opportunities for professional growth, and continues to be the most widely read, most lucrative, and most respected media company that has ever existed in the history of the written word.
Why we’re unionizing:
To have a seat at the table
We believe Onion Inc.’s success begins and ends with its creative staffs, who are responsible for producing the content that sustains the company’s reputation and profitability. We best understand what our departments need to succeed. We must ensure that we are all part of any major decision-making process that affects the company’s organizational structure, editorial practices, or financial outcomes.
To strengthen our culture and maintain editorial independence
We seek to preserve the collaborative spirit and creative integrity of Onion Inc. Maintaining a safe and supportive environment is imperative in facilitating the creation of high-quality work. It is also essential that our creative staffs continue to have independent oversight of the editorial, graphical, and video work they produce, and that this is reflected in the hierarchy of the editorial publications.
To ensure fair wages, hiring practices, consistent benefits, and severance pay
We want to ensure fair compensation for everyone who contributes to the success of Onion Inc., including contractors. This includes a workplace with pay equity, job stability, quality healthcare, overtime compensation, concrete parental leave, and formalized channels for communication with management. We want to prioritize recruitment and retention of people with backgrounds that are often underrepresented in our industry, and hold Univision and Onion Inc. management accountable in adhering to our values.