Thrillist Ratifies Second Union Contract with Group Nine Media
New York, NY (August 3, 2021) – With 100% of the unit voting, Thrillist’s 40-member unit with the Writers Guild of America, East unanimously ratified its second collective bargaining agreement with Group Nine Media.
The Thrillist Bargaining Committee said, “We are excited to have reached an agreement on a second contract, which we achieved through the continued solidarity of our unit. Throughout this process we strived to maintain the benefits and protections we secured in our first contract while also looking to improve material benefits for our lowest-paid employees, increase pay equity across the unit, expand diversity initiatives at the company, limit the use of NDAs, mitigate any rising healthcare costs, and create longevity programs that will make building a career at Group Nine more fulfilling. Though it was often difficult to bargain during a pandemic, we consistently found encouragement from our colleagues in the WGAE, other media shops, and across the larger labor movement. We’re really proud of this new contract. Organize your workplace.”
Thrillist won a three-year collective bargaining agreement that cements financial gains and important workplace protections, including the elimination of NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) in settlements for harassment and discrimination. The company will add protections and additional transparency for employees initiating claims and guarantee the right for employees to bring a Union representative when reporting harassment or discrimination.
The lowest job tier salary minimum will start at $58,500 and go up to $60,000 on May 1, 2022, a $10,000 increase over the salary minimum in Thrillist’s first union contract. There is also an increase of up to $8,500 for other tier salary minimums. The contract guarantees the employer will investigate and explain or correct pay discrepancies of more than 12% between two employees performing the same role. And a pay equity study must be completed within six months with transparency to the Union of methodology and results.
The contract includes successorship language that says if the company is sold, the new owner must recognize the union and the contract. In the event of layoffs, the new agreement sees a substantial increase in severance, with 8 weeks salary for people with less than 2 years of service, and additional weeks of severance per year of service. The company agreed to pay health care benefits for length of severance.
50% of applicants for open positions to progress to the hiring manager stage will be from backgrounds that are underrepresented at Thrillist (BIPOC, people identifying as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities), with enhanced recruitment efforts for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. In addition, Group Nine Media will provide a Diversity committee with union members a $25,000 minimum spending for diversity initiatives.
The contract puts a cap on any potential increase in healthcare premium costs year over year, codifies the 401(k) match, and doubles vacation time to four weeks per year for employees who have been at the company less than five years. Employees will be eligible for a four week sabbatical at half pay once every seven years of employment. Further, the freelance to staff conversion will now happen after 10 months. Employees in entry-level roles will be evaluated for a promotion after one year in the role, with the company making good faith efforts to offer the promotion.
As the pandemic has changed how and where work is done, the new contract will keep remote work flexibility, while including an increase in the remote work stipend in 2022 to cover work from home costs. There will also be a yearly bonus for 2021 and 2022 to help cover work from home expenses.
In addition, the contract preserves union security, just cause, editorial standards language, outside work policies, comp time, sick leave, bereavement leave, and parental leave.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “The WGAE fought and won a contract that builds off our union’s strong first collective bargaining agreement, and makes important gains around pay equity, salary minimums, ending non-disclosure agreements, and much more. The Writers Guild continues to bargain with Group Nine for a first contract for Now This. We represent the staff at the Group Nine-owned The Dodo, and we remain committed to improving working conditions for our members corporate-wide.”
The Writers Guild of America, East represents nearly 7,000 writers in film, television, news (broadcast and digital), and podcasts. In addition to Thrillist, the WGAE represents newsrooms at 1010 WINS, ABC News, Bustle Digital Group, CBS News, CBSN, Chalkbeat, Committee to Protect Journalists, Entercom (WCBS-AM, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM), Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, FT Specialist, Future Plc, Gizmodo Media Group, Hearst Magazines, HuffPost, Inc., The Intercept, Jewish Currents, MTV News, NowThis, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), VICE, Vox Media and WBBM-CBS 2 News.