The editorial staff at The Intercept, the investigative journalism website, has unanimously ratified its first contract with the WGA East – a pact that includes “landmark” diversity and inclusion provision.

Based on the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and other senior jobs, the new WGA East-Intercept Rule ensures at least two candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in journalism – women, people of color and those identifying as LGBTQ –  will be interviewed for jobs or promotions.

The Intercept

The contract also creates a Diversity Committee that will meet quarterly to discuss, assist and partner with human resources and management on current and potential diversity and inclusion initiatives with regard to recruitment, selection, retention, mentorship, and advancement, as well as diversity and inclusion issues related to editorial coverage.

The three year contract also “makes real gains” in pay, reuse of members’ work, and paid time off, the union said in a statement. Highlights of the contract include:

  • “Meaningful pay increases” for all employees, particularly those who are currently at or below median pay.
  • A new system of pay tiers based on job classifications with guidance (and annual discussions with supervisors) on how to advance.
  • Four months’ paid leave for all parents (birth, adoption, or foster).
  • *Just cause for termination (with notice and opportunity to improve for employees who fail to meet editorial standards), plus “significant severance pay.”

“The union bargaining committee worked diligently and intelligently to translate employees’ concerns and aspirations into substantial gains in the collective bargaining agreement,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “This hard work, plus thoughtful and diligent work by management’s representatives, have led to a very strong first contract that addresses diversity and inclusion, transparency and fairness in pay and job duties, and meaningful ongoing engagement in workplace decisions.”

“We’re pleased to have a collective bargaining agreement that provides such excellent benefits to our employees and ensures that The Intercept will remain a great place to work and produce journalism,” said Betsy Reed, The Intercept’s editor-in-chief. “This expansive and progressive agreement reflects the core values of our organization, including a robust commitment to diversity in our newsroom. We’re grateful to the leadership of the WGA East and The Intercept employees who collaborated with The Intercept’s leadership team and First Look Media to create this landmark contract.”

“We at The Intercept are proud of the work our unit has done to get this contract ratified,” The Intercept bargaining committee said in a statement. “We believe it sets valuable precedents for other digital media workers seeking fair treatment from their employers. In this time when the bedrock principles of our profession as well as the right to union representation itself are under attack, we hope our success encourages other outlets to organize alongside us and our fellow WGAE shops.”

In addition to The Intercept, the WGAE represents digital and video staffs at Vox Media, Onion Inc., HuffPost, Vice, Fast Company, The Dodo, Thrillist, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Salon, Slate and Gizmodo Media Group.