Lately it seems that, every week, a new group of media employees votes to join a union. On Tuesday, a majority of employees at Slate voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East. This came a few days after newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times voted to join the NewsGuild–Communications Workers of America. Two weeks before that Vox Media recognized the Writers Guild of America, East, as the union representative of their editorial and video staff.
These efforts are the latest in a slew of successful campaigns to unionize educated workers, not the traditional targets for labor organizers. In the past three years, employees of Vice Media, ThinkProgress, HuffPost, The Intercept, Salon, Thrillist, and the now-defunct Gawker have all joined unions. Graduate students at Columbia, Yale, Tufts, and Brandeis have also voted to join unions. Adjunct professors at Seattle University formed a union in 2016, and employees at the legal group Lambda Legal voted to form a union in December.
Labor advocates are declaring the wins for white-collar workers a new front for organizing, and indeed, labor has been making some progress in expanding its reach among educated workers. The number of people employed in professional and technical occupations who are members of unions grew by almost 90,000 last year, according to numbers released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fields of law, arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media all saw substantial gains in the share of workers who are in unions, ticking up from around 4 percent in 2010 to around 7 in 2017.