Mic staffers unionize, citing diversity concerns

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On Tuesday, editorial employees at Mic announced their decision to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York, seeking more diverse hiring practices and increased transparency around salaries and promotions.

Mic staffers declared their intent to unionize in a letter delivered to the digital media company’s co-founder Chris Altchek on Tuesday morning. Mic employee Will Drabold wrote on Twitter that 88 percent of the newsroom signed cards in favor of unionization.

Mic reporter Kelsey Sutton told 50 States of Blue that employees have been discussing unionization for more than nine months and that people in the newsroom were “excited and proud” to go public with their union effort.

“We wanted to officially codify some of the the things that Mic has already unofficially committed to providing the newsroom with: diverse perspectives, transparency around hiring practices and integrity in its editorial approach,” Sutton said.

One of the major areas staffers identified for improvement is Mic’s public commitment to diversity and inclusion, which workers say could be better met by the company in its employment practices.

“We are proud to work at a company committed to diversity and integrity,” employees wrote to their management. “For Mic to honor these commitments, it must be a welcoming and equitable workplace for women, people of color, and transgender and gender non-conforming people.”

Mic’s website states that it seeks to “give voice to the underrepresented” by “embracing diversity, because when both journalists and the sources and subjects they speak to come from varied backgrounds and experiences, they produce a richer, deeper, more valuable journalism.”

Employees expressed a desire for the hiring of more women and people of color and instituting clearer systems for promotion to create equal opportunity for career advancement.

“By uniting the editorial workers across the company, we’re confident we’ll be better able to achieve Mic’s vision of championing social and economic justice,” employees wrote.

Staffers are also seeking regular salary increases, health benefits for part-time employees, and opportunities to train in new skills. Employees said this last point is necessary to “ensuring industry changes happen with workers, not to workers.”

Mic staffers have plenty of experience being at the whims of shifting media industry needs. In August 2017, Mic laid off 25 employees, most of them editorial staff, as part of a decision to increase the site’s focus on video content.

The letter to management says that going forward, the company should “look within its newsroom for talented people who can fill new positions” and give current workers “opportunities to train on new skills as demand for those skills emerges.”

So far, Mic’s management hasn’t said whether it plans to voluntarily recognize the union or force an official National Labor Relations Board vote.

“Regarding unionization, we’re in conversations and are keeping the best interest of our employees and the company in mind,” Mic spokesperson Caitlyn Carpanzano told 50 States of Blue.

“We would like Mic to voluntarily recognize the union, which would not require an NLRB election,” Sutton said. “We are hopeful that Mic will do the right thing and voluntarily recognize the Mic Union.”

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