The writers at the Vox Media website The Dodo ratified a new contract negotiated through their WGA East-affiliated union on Monday, averting a strike that would have taken place at midnight tonight.
This is the second bargaining agreement negotiated for the animal-focused website and the first under Vox Media. All 40 members of the union had signed an agreement pledging to strike if a new agreement had not been made by the end of October.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with what we’ve achieved in our second contract. When we began bargaining, our goals were to lift the members of our unit up to a livable, industry-standard wage and to ensure that our acquisition by a bigger parent company would mean better pay, more resources, and higher standards of working and living,” read a statement from the Dodo Union bargaining committee. “We’re proud to say that we’ve won a contract that not only guarantees all of this for our unit, but truly reflects the compassion and humanity that The Dodo has built its legacy on.”
Among the gains in the contract are significant salary minimum increases, with the lowest paid employees seeing a $10,000 annual increase to $60,000 per year while all members are guaranteed annual raises.
WGA East also listed the following gains:
A 40-hour workweek that includes recuperation time for salaried employees (when working unusually long hours, late nights, on a holiday or on a sixth day in a week), overtime pay for certain titles and guaranteed 10 hours of rest time between shifts
Health care benefits that include a 10% cap for year-over-year premium increases starting with the 2024 plan year, development of a policy on critical health care that will include abortion access and gender-affirming care, codified WPATH (trans health care) standards and an agreement that the company will always provide health benefits to partners regardless of gender
Increases in leave policies, including five months (20 weeks) of parental leave and a policy that states management will top up short-term disability payment for at least four weeks so people are made whole when they need health leave (medical recovery, mental health, etc.)
A minimum of 12 weeks of severance for people who have been at the company for a year or less, and a minimum of 26 weeks of severance for people who have been at the company for over 10 years
Guarantee that the unit will continue to have work-from-home flexibility, as well as a $75 per month WFH reimbursement and $75 per month comms subsidy (internet, phone bill, etc.)
Equal pay protections that trigger a company investigation if a worker believes they are paid 15% below the average for a job at their vertical
Commitment to at least 50% of job candidates interviewed being from groups underrepresented at The Dodo (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities) and guaranteed funding of the Union DEI Committee of $11,000 per year, with an additional $11,000 per year for initiatives to retain employees from underrepresented populations
Eliminating the use of employee NDAs in cases of harassment or discrimination
$7,000 for the unit each year to go toward professional development classes, conferences, etc.
At least 3% 401(k) match
“We are proud of the work of our professional staff and our activist members – solidarity and hard work that has resulted in real gains for our members at The Dodo,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson.
Several other contract negotiations are also underway at other WGAE-unionized media outlets as the guild continues its labor organizing efforts in digital media. The bargaining unit at Bustle Digital Group has been struggling for two years to reach its first contract for workers at sites like Bustle, Elite Daily and Inverse among others, though management at BDG has told TheWrap it is committed to continue negotiating in good faith.
That has not been the case at Hearst Magazines, which has seen WGAE’s unionizing efforts lead to failed lawsuits by the media company and an eventual NLRB unionization vote that the Guild emerged victorious in. Last week, the union for Hearst sent an open letter to management accusing it of not coming to the negotiating table in good faith and demanding that talks on a contract begin.