With newsrooms across the country reeling from the loss of advertising revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and vowing to become more racially sensitive and inclusive during the ongoing nationwide social justice movement, the WGA East and Slate have agreed to launch a work-share program and new editorial guidelines for the online magazine’s editorial and podcast staffs in New York, California and Washington, D.C.
The work-share program will allow management to cut bargaining unit members’ hours and pay by 20% through July 31. The cut in hours and pay allows members to stay employed while still being eligible to collect the money they lost due to the COVID-19-related cutbacks as part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created in the recently enacted CARES Act.
The guild saidit has also reached an agreement with management to form an Editorial Guidelines Committee “In response to ongoing discussions in the newsroom about racist terminology” – specifically, with regards to recent articles and podcasts in which language was used that many staffers there deemed to be inappropriate. A spokesman for the union said that “The use of racist language can be extremely harmful and companies should always be looking to discuss their content standards and guidelines. We are thankful that Slate was open to do so with the union, especially at a time when we are all working towards creating a more just and equitable society.”
“With a strong display of union solidarity we were able to save jobs and help create a more inclusive newsroom,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “We thank management for being open to these proposals and working with the bargaining unit to take swift action to address these two critical issues.”
“These arrangements are a win-win,” staff reps said in a statement. “It’s saving the publication money in a time of economic stress while keeping employees financially whole. We’re thrilled that our union was able to work with management to make this happen.”
The WGA East now represents nearly 6,000 writers in film, TV, news and new media. In addition to Slate, the guild represents newsrooms at ABC News, CBS News, CBSN, the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Dodo, Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, Future plc, Gimlet Media, G/O Media, HuffPost, The Intercept, MTV News, Refinery29, The Ringer, Salon, Talking Points Memo, 1010 WINS, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), Thrillist, VICE, Vox Media and WBBM/CBS 2 News.