“our situation is unique”

I generally find radical transparency kind of creepy, but I think Gawker Media opening up its internal discussion about a union effort is useful, so I encourage you to check it out. [edit: useful to me. Maybe not so useful to individual employees who feel intimidated about it, it occurs to me.] The particulars of Gawker Media’s union drive are not my business. But whether or not a workplace like Gawker Media can be unionized is everyone’s business. Especially in an industry like online writing. Because the lives of employees in that industry, if you ask me and others, are about to get markedly worse.

I’ll just say this. Stef Schrader says “our situation is unique.” I don’t blame her really, as that’s a trope in union organizing. Nothing about the situation as described in the comments is unique, most certainly including people claiming that the situation is unique. In fact, all of the complaints I’m seeing from those who oppose the union are absolutely commonplace to organizing efforts, again including the notion that those complaints are unique to that context. In particular, meta-issues of fairness, communication, and transparency as as common to union organizing as you could imagine. So too are the claims that people voting no are themselves deeply committed to unions and organizing in general even as they oppose the current effort in specific. That’s something longtime union organizers hear all the time. None of this means that the complaints are wrong, or that the current union push is a good idea. Like I said, it’s not my business. It also doesn’t mean that people are insincere when they say that they support unions. It just means that frequently a big impediment to a real union is the hypothetical union, the next union, the future union.

I guess the union efforts of the 21st century are going to look a lot like those of the 20th.