On Thursday, dozens of Vox Media staffers took to Twitter to share personal stories about what it’s been like to work at the digital media company.
Reporters, editors, and other staffers wrote in tweets addressed to CEO Jim Bankoff about how proud they were of the work they had done there and how instrumental the company has been in their careers.
The coordinated campaign, essentially the social media version of a public demonstration, is an effort to draw attention to the ongoing contract negotiations between Vox Media management and the Vox Union, 24 hours before its last scheduled bargaining day. The union is asking for salary minimums, guaranteed raises, and severance packages for laid-off workers.
Vox Media, which is based in Washington, D.C., but employs workers across the country, owns niche, local sites such as the food-focused Eater, real-estate-focused Curbed, and sports-focused SBNation.
The social media campaign follows a more private campaign that occurred within the company’s Slack messaging app Monday, where more than 100 staffers shared stories about working conditions in messages addressed to Bankoff, said Samit Sarkar, front page editor of Polygon. Some staffers shared screenshots of their Slack messages Thursday.
Vox Union -- which organized in November 2017 with the Writer’s Guild of America East -- is part of a wave of unionization among digital media companies, despite union membership hovering at historic lows and numerous attacks on organized labor from conservative groups and politicians. HuffPost, Gawker, Vice, and Slate are just a few of the “new media” companies that have unionized in recent years.
And with that wave comes new organizing tactics tailored to fit the strengths of those workers. A campaign like this wouldn’t be effective without the kinds of employees who are adept at building and engaging a digital audience. Buzzfeed Union, which has been fighting for almost four months to get its union recognized, has used similar social media tactics.
(Interestingly, the Washington Post’s labor reporter in 2015 said that it was exactly this quality -- the emphasis on crafting an individual, personal brand -- that explained, in part, why online journalists weren’t organizing.)