Known as a leading leftist voice and the heart of the anti-Trump resistance, Slate Magazine’s progressive agenda apparently stops short with its employees.
After more than 90 percent of its editorial staff signed cards to unionize with the Writers Guild of America back in March, the site’s management refused to voluntarily recognize the Guild as their collective bargaining representative, and has continued to drag its feet.
The vote to unionize came after five staffers were laid off in February, two of which were active union organizers. The Slate Unionizing Committee is calling for protections around salary, benefits, termination, severance and increased diversity in the newsroom.
Slate’s management team balked at the idea of unionization, discouraging the effort internally with the editorial staff. Slate Group President Jacob Weisberg wrote a lengthy email to staff conveying his private opinion on the matter, which was subsequently leaked to Splinter.
“On a personal level, my own career here, in which I’ve worked as a writer, an editor, and on the business side, exemplifies to me why Slate employees are better off without a union,” he writes. “In my 20 years here, I’ve benefitted massively from the freedom writers and editors have to pick their stories, to work at home, to work flexible hours, to change jobs and roles, and to take time off to write books. With a union, all of that becomes subject to negotiation and team-wide rules, rather than your own discretion and a 1:1 discussion with your editor.”
He goes on to cite the increased costs, lack of editorial authority and autonomy, and reduced resources that would come with unionization, sounding much more like a conservative than a liberal anti-Trumper.
Weisberg also tells the staff that the management team has chosen not to voluntarily recognize the union because they want the staff to have the opportunity to recognize their views before making a final decision.
“You’ll have a chance to do that in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations board (NLRB) and signing an authorization card does not obligate you to vote for the union in an election,” he notes.
With no word from management yet on its preference for an NLRB vote, Slate organizers are scratching their heads on next best steps.
“There’s a clear difference in how we’re marketing ourselves as against Trumpism versus how we’re actually taking care of people who may feel the effects of Trumpism,” a current staffer told Splinter. “It’s a laughable and obvious hypocrisy.”