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Medium Is The Latest Media/Tech Team to Unionise
Workers across departments at Medium have voted to “make sure actions matter.”
On Feb 11 a majority of Medium’s 140 workers in engineering, editorial, design, product, and other departments, announced the launch of a new union. The Medium Workers Union (MWU) voted to join their local chapter of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) in San Francisco.
A statement on their local CWA site under the heading ‘We Build Medium’ explained the MWU’s motivations for organising:
“…both tech and media are at a crossroads, and it is more important than ever that companies in both industries are equitable and supportive of their employees. This is the age of newsroom buyouts, startups folding, tech companies shifting more jobs to contractors, and the general implosion of independent media. Tech and media companies alike are constantly changing direction, dissolving and reforming, pivoting and refocusing. This often creates business advantages, but it also upends workers’ lives. To thrive as a creative, sustainable platform, Medium must support and protect its workforce and create the best environment possible in these turbulent times.”
With no campaign announced on launch, their FAQ page states:
We are not unionizing to make specific demands, and have not been galvanized by a single issue. We’re creating infrastructure for workers at Medium to have their voices strengthened and amplified by each other, much like the way writers use Medium to amplify their words and ideas.
There has been almost a decade of volatility at Medium in management’s decisions regarding funding structures, editorial strategy, and existential status (platform? publisher? platipub?) as the traditional foundations of publishing shifted under the feet of all media outlets.
MWUs statement nodded to the realities for workers of this “constantly changing direction, dissolving and reforming, pivoting and refocusing”. However, a spokesperson for the union reiterated that there was no direct catalyst in the decision to organise, and that “Medium is a good place to work”.
CEO and founder Ev Williams and the management team have yet to voluntarily recognise the union, but the union’s spokesperson said they were hopeful this would happen soon. They added:
“…together we’ve been able to build a great platform. One of our values is a “one team, one dream” vision and we’re hoping that management will work with our union in that same spirit.”
Priorities for the union such as combating misinformation, boosting marginalised voices, and transparency can be found in the MWU statement, along with an FAQs section which also has some useful information for anyone interested in what a union does.
Subscribers to Chompsky’s newsletter will know that this is the latest in a recent uptake of unionisation efforts in media and tech. Last week it was the New York Daily News, and earlier this year workers at Google’s parent company Alphabet formed a union. Even Amazon workers are set to vote this month in what’s being called their ‘most viable effort’ yet.