Yesterday Gawker Media’s staffers announced their open flirtations with unionization.
While union strongholds nationwide are diminishing in favor of greater employee choice and right to work, Gawker is hoping to be the first online publication subject to union demands.
Hamilton Nolan explained why he finds unionization appealing because he wanted to get ahead of the gossip. Yes, really. But then what is Gawker if not gossipy?
Every workplace could use a union. A union is the only real mechanism that exists to represent the interests of employees in a company. A union is also the only real mechanism that enables employees to join together to bargain collectively, rather than as a bunch of separate, powerless entities. This is useful in good times (which our company enjoys now), and even more in bad times (which will inevitably come).
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve never been employed by an entity with unionized employees. But when you live in a great right to work state like Texas, that whole organized labor problem solves itself.
Perhaps I’ve been exceptionally fortunate or maybe it’s because I’ve always understood my roll as an employee is simply to complete the job I was hired to do, but not once in my professional life have I encountered a workplace situation where I thought, “Gee, a hoard of angry people picketing, striking, and demanding the boss capitulate is a GREAT idea! Let’s do that!” Nor have I ever felt I needed the assistance of groupies to convey a point. I’ve never felt ‘powerless’ because my expectation of work was not to garner power, but to do a job, and then get paid because I did the job I was hired for. I’m also not a pansy.
But I digress… back to Nolan’s union rationale:
Though our company is relatively well run, pays relatively competitive salaries, and treats its employees relatively well, there are still certain issues that many employees would like to see addressed. We would like to ensure everyone receives a salary that is fair for their time at the company and the work they do. We would like to ensure that things like pay and raises are set in a fair, transparent, and unbiased way. We would like to have some basic mechanism for giving employees a voice in the decisions that affect all of us here.
HOMOGENIZE ALL THINGS! Heaven forbid someone working harder make more than the slack in the corner. Alas, the entitlement generation is upon us, vomiting their special snowflake insecurities all over the workplace. “Fair, fair, fair, fair!” they cry, having yet realized that nothing about life is fair.
Every time I hear this crowd wax poetic about fairness, I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories from Occupy… New York, I believe it was.
Occupy cooks were graciously serving Occupiers three square meals per day, for free. Protestors uptwinkled and took their trust-fund baby, 99% selves back to their drum circles to enjoy their free meal (or at least that’s how I imagined it). And then the homeless people showed up. As the homeless began to partake in the free meals, the Occupiers were enraged. How dare they enjoy a free, hot lunch! “That’s so UNFAIR!” they wailed. “Don’t the homeless people know the free food is for us lowly 99%ers?!” And so the Occupiers responded not with fairness and kindness to their 99% brethren, but by serving bland, pitiful food in an attempt to drive away the undesirables.
Point being, the Occupiers were jerks. Just kidding. Well, kind of. Most of those I chatted with at the time were good-hearted, but wrong-minded individuals, hungry to be part of anything bigger than themselves. But the point of this story is simply that fairness is relative. The more ‘fair’ any society tries to become, the less fair the result. Though I suspect this is something Gawker will have to learn the hard way, like the Occupiers did.
Nolan’s third reason for wanting a union is simply to be first purely online publication to hold that distinction. “There are plenty of companies in this industry whose workers could desperately use the help of a union. If we can show that it’s possible, I hope that a positive precedent will be set,” he writes.
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) April 16, 2015
What would a Gawker Media editorial union look like? That’s a fantastic question, and one that currently has no answer. “The final shape that the union might take, and who exactly will be in it, and what specific goals it will pursue all remain to be seen,” says Nolan.
We need a union!
Why? What would that accomplish?
I don’t know, but we need a union!
But Gawker’s pro-union crowd isn’t greedy or anything. Nope. They just want to make things more… wait for it… fair. “Nobody is seeking to hurt this company, or plunder it for all it’s worth, or find a way to attack the people that run it. We’re just trying to make it a bit more functional, and a bit more fair.”
You gotta give it Nolan though; it’s hard to be so honestly self-contradictory.
Meanwhile, Legal Insurrection is proudly a union-free zone. Unless of course we’re writing about unions, then we’re not. But you get the point.
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