Thrillist writers win $50,000 annual salary in victory for union

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Thrillist employees show digital media workers can negotiate better deals while unionized.
Thrillist employees show digital media workers can negotiate better deals while unionized. Credit: istock

Thrillist writers and editors came away from the negotiating table with a raise and more in labor talks that took more than a year and included a work stoppage.

One of the sticking points between management at Thrillist, which is owned by Group Nine Media, and the editorial staff, represented the Writers Guild of America East union, was the demand for a starting salary of $50,000, which the union won in the new deal. In an earlier negotiation, Thrillist had offered a minimum salary of $40,500.

The union also won a guaranteed raise of 8.5 percent after the first year, and other benefits regarding vacation days and parental leave.

"This represents a victory not just for the editorial employees of Thrillist, but for our entire industry," union representatives said in a statement on Thursday.

Group Nine Media also owns The Dodo, NowThis, Seeker and Jash. In recent years, there has been a wave of unionizing at digital publishers, including at Vice Media, Huffington Post and The Dodo, which is still negotiating for a new contract.

Media employees are turning to collective action to fight for more security in an industry that is grappling with the shifting economics of online publishing and the dominance of social media platforms.

Thrillist workers came away with many of their top demands met after a sometimes-contentious 15 months of negotiating. In August, more than 50 Thrillist employees stayed out of work for one day and voted to authorize a full strike if necessary.

"The last two days of negotiations went very smoothly," said one Thrillist union member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Which surprised us based on the tenor of literally every other session from the past 15 months."

"We are very happy that Thrillist has reached a tentative agreement with the WGAE-represented staff on a collective bargaining agreement," Thrillist management said in an emailed statement. "We are absolutely committed to the growth and success of all of our employees and look forward to great things to come."

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