A group affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East has accused Vox Media, the parent company of the popular liberal news site Vox, of "union busting" for refusing to accept their claim to have the backing of a majority of its workers to form a union.
"We're disappointed Vox Media is union busting by pretending they don't understand why an NLRB election is unacceptable. A supermajority of editorial and video staff already voted to organize by signing cards. Please respect our decision and voluntarily recognize," said the group, which calls itself Vox Union, in a statement tweeted Wednesday.
The tweet included a copy what is apparently Vox Media's official response to their claim of majority support. It implies that the union has been intimidating the workers. "While there may have been support for the union's efforts across the various editorial brands, we have heard from many people who are troubled by the process and are worried about expressing their concerns and speaking out against unionizing ... even if there is a lot of support we want to ensure that all employees are able to make informed decisions about the union, and feel that their voices are heard too."
Vox writer Dara Lind, who is apparently one of the organizers, tweeted Wednesday: "I am more than happy to have conversations with any and all Vox Media employees about the union. I respect my colleagues' ability to make their own decisions and would love to help give them the best info to do it. Because that's what journalism is all about."
Under federal workplace law an employer can simply recognize a union's claim to have majority support and agree to negotiate a contract or it can dispute the claim and request a federally monitored election by the National Labor Relations Board to verify the union's claim. The Vox Media response indicates that it has chosen the latter path. Under former President Barack Obama's administration, unions pushed for legislation that would strip employers of the right to call for such an election, in effect allowing unions to organize a workplace when they simply claimed to have the necessary support.
Vox Union pointed to a 2006 article by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein in which he gave qualified support to card check elections, stating, "My concerns fell much more with the current, constant, and far more effective intimidation tactics of employers." It is not clear what, if any, role Klein had in Vox Media's opposition to Vox Union's claim.
Former Vox writer Timothy Lee defended his ex-employer's move: "Vox is declining to voluntarily recognize the Vox union so that workers who are skeptical about the union have a chance to be heard. Seems like a good call"
A representative for Vox or Vox Media could not be reached for comment.