Sports Illustrated Staff Informs Management Of Plan To Unionize
The staff at Sports Illustrated has told management that it plans to unionize, saying that it wants a "greater say in the future of the iconic magazine and raising concerns about the magazine's direction" under new operator Maven, according to Ben Strauss of the WASHINGTON POST. Organizers yesterday said that more than 90% of the 80 or so staffers "eligible for the bargaining unit" signed a petition "supporting the union drive" and quest to join the NewsGuild of New York. In a letter to management, the staff "requested a pay-equity study, an increased focus on minority hiring, clarity for workers on extended temporary contracts and clear protocols for handling harassment." Senior Writer Jenny Vrentas, who was involved in the organizing effort, said, "We are unionizing to make sure SI is a safe, inclusive place to work, where all employees are treated fairly and can continue to do our jobs at a high level." The NewsGuild of New York "represents journalists" at the N.Y. Times, the New Yorker, Buzzfeed and various other publications. It already represents about 15 SI writers, who "work mostly for the print magazine." The current effort at SI would "expand the bargaining unit to include most editorial staffers, including digital and video journalists." Organizers said that despite their concerns about Maven, the union effort is "not strictly a response" to the new management. The SI staff "presented its intent to unionize" to co-Editors-in-Chief Ryan Hunt and Steve Cannella (WASHINGTON POST, 1/7). Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders congratulated SI staff on the move, tweeting, "I hope other workers in media follow their example and join a union. Now more than ever, we need a strong labor movement across all industries" (TWITTER.com, 1/6).
UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR: In N.Y., Andy Clayton noted SI/Maven reporter Brant Wilkerson-New "quit after having been publicly called out on social media for sending inappropriate text messages to a fellow reporter." Wilkerson-New on Friday issued an apology on Twitter to N.C.-based radio host Jasmyn Fritz, who earlier in the day had "shared the offensive text messages she had received." Wilkerson-New previously spent three years at the Greensboro News & Record before joining the SI team site HeelsMaven (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/5).