The Onion Union Gets Strike Authorization, Accuses G/O Media Of Bad Faith Bargaining Through “Threatening And Intimidating Behavior”

The Onion Union has authorized a strike against parent company G/O Media ahead of its contract expiration on Wednesday.

Authorized in conjunction with the Writers Guild of America East, the Onion Union’s strike received 97% votes in favor of the strike, with the WGAE’s Online Media Council members unanimously approving.

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The Onion Union represents the creative staff at The Onion, The A.V. Club, Deadspin, and The Takeout. If a strike is called, picketing will begin in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City — all the cities where staff are located — on February 1.

“We do not take the decision to go on an open-ended ULP strike lightly, but we have to take a stand for what is just. Our demands are reasonable and well within the budget of G/O Media and its private equity owners Great Hill Partners, who made an estimated $44 million in revenue in 2023,” a statement from the union read. “Management has the ability to reach a fair agreement with our union before our current contract expires that allows us to afford to live in the cities where we work and provides us with basic assurances for job security.”

In addition to pay increases, the Onion Union is seeking contractual protections in the event that the company is sold. This comes after the union hit back at G/O Media management after the closure of Jezebel in November, writing in a statement at the time, “our hostile and incompetent management made no effort to work with the union to find a less cruel alternative arrangement…”

The union is also seeking improved severance given the ongoing layoffs, as well as basic protections against AI — another area in which employees throughout the company are speaking from experience, given G/O Media previously published AI-generated articles on several of its sites, much to the ire of the staff.

G/O Media is accused of “bargaining in bad faith when the Employer engaged in threatening and intimidating behavior, made threats to cancel agreed upon release time for bargaining committee members, unilaterally canceled previously agreed upon in-person negotiations with the Union, and failed to proffer management representatives with the authority to reach an agreement,” according to the guild.

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