The WGA East, in its ongoing efforts to unionize digital newsrooms, has been recognized voluntarily by CBSN — an arm of CBS News — as the collective bargaining representative of the live-streaming news network’s 55 writers, producers and graphic artists. CBSN became the first-24/7 live anchored digital streaming news network when it launched in 2014, and now it is the first major digital live-streaming news service to unionize.
CBSN agreed to recognize the union and enter into negotiations for a first-time contract after more than two-thirds of the bargaining unit signed authorization cards saying they wanted to join the guild. It’s he latest chapter in the guild’s 65-year history with CBS News, whose writers have been members of the WGA East since it was established in 1954.
“The WGAE recognizes that the news business has become increasingly platform-agnostic,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “People watch and read news on television screens and computer screens and smartphone screens (and on radio). Our members are committed to creating compelling content for all of these screens, and our union is committed to representing people who do this work on all screens. CBSN has broken ground by being the first in the growing sector of digital live-streaming news services to unionize. The reality is that virtually every major network has or is set to launch their own streaming services and it is vital that people doing the same work as their peers in broadcast and digital media are able to secure equal workplace protections. We are pleased to welcome CBSN to the Guild and we look forward to carrying our productive relationship with CBS News forward into the digital realm.”
The CBSN Organizing Committee said in a statement: “We organized because we want to keep producing dynamic content in a fair work environment. We organized to ensure that everyone who walks into our newsroom is treated equally. We organized because we know we are stronger together. We organized because we are CBSN and we are always on.” Read the full statement below.
In addition to CBSN, the WGAE represents broadcast news staffs at ABC News, WNYW-TV, WBBM-AM, WCBS-AM and WINS-AM as well as digital staffs at Salon, HuffPost, Vice, Slate, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Onion Inc., Intercept, The Dodo, Fast Company, Gizmodo Media Group, Refinery29, Talking Points Memo, Thrillist, and Vox Media.
Here is CBSN’s statement in its entirety:
We are CBSN and we are always on.
We are the tiny but mighty group of dedicated writers, producers and graphic artists at CBS News’ 24/7 live streaming channel. We are proud to be pioneers in the digital industry and contributors to the history of journalistic excellence at CBS News. Just like our colleagues on the broadcast side of CBS News, we know that the best way to advocate for a fair and safe workplace is to ensure that all our voices are heard. That’s why we have organized to be a part of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
An overwhelming majority of our coworkers at CBSN have signed union authorization cards to join the 5,000 members of the WGAE, which includes hundreds of our CBS News broadcast colleagues who already have a union contract. We are also proud to stand with the thousands of other digital media professionals who have organized in recent years. We are encouraged by CBS’ decision to voluntarily recognize our union and we are looking forward to constructive negotiations over the issues that are important to all of us.
We organized because we want to keep producing dynamic content in a fair work environment. We organized to ensure that everyone who walks into our newsroom is treated equally. We organized because we know we are stronger together. We organized because we are CBSN and we are always on.