POLITICS

Fusion Will Hold Union Election After Lengthy Fight

Managers have tried to convince employees unionizing is against their interests.
The Fusion newsroom in Miami.
The Fusion newsroom in Miami.

Fusion editorial staff will soon vote in an online election to decide whether to join a union, the company and union organizers announced Friday.

The decision marks the end of a nearly month-long dispute between the two entities. Management refused to voluntarily recognize the union after a majority of staff at the Miami-based cable TV channel and multimedia news site signed cards in October to elect the Writers Guild of America, East as their collective bargaining representative.

“We’re glad to put this part of the process to bed after a month of requests for voluntary recognition and negotiations for an inclusive bargaining unit,” the Fusion Union Organizing Committee said in a statement.

Workers and the company are still finalizing a date for the election, but both sides suggested they want it to take place next week. 

Asked for comment on the news, Fusion referred The Huffington Post to a tweet publicizing executives’ message to employees about the union election.

The organizing committee and the Writers Guild also resolved an argument with management over which workers would be eligible to join the union.

The union and its organizers largely won the fight to include senior editors, senior producers and social media professionals in the bargaining unit, according to Caitlin Cruz, an associate features editor and a member of the organizing committee.

Although the details are still being finalized, she estimated that just under 80 editorial staff members will be eligible to vote in the union election.

“We got results because we were willing to go to bat for our co-workers,” Cruz said.

Employees were considering engaging in tactics to put more pressure on the company, such as picketing outside the offices, before management compromised on the size of the bargaining unit, Cruz said.

She said she is confident that the election will result in a vote to unionize, since more than 60 percent of the eligible employees signed union cards and support for the effort has only grown since then.

If workers do vote to unionize, Fusion will join a growing number of digital media newsrooms where workers have successfully organized in the past two years. HuffPost, which is also represented by the Writers Guild for America, East, became the largest such outlet to unionize when it won voluntary recognition from management in January.

But the Fusion organizing drive stood out for the stiff resistance it met from management ― which declined to recognize the organization efforts and launched an anti-union persuasion campaign, sending executives Boris Gartner and Daniel Eilemberg to hold mandatory meetings with staff at company offices across the country.

The Fusion Union Organizing Committee pushed back with the #FusionUnion social media campaign, a letter to Fusion CEO Isaac Lee and a press strategy that raised awareness of the dispute in other media outlets.

The company’s attempt to convince workers not to join the union “definitely helped our cause,” Cruz said. “People signed union cards and became a lot more aware of it afterward.”

Fusion’s organizers are also using the election announcement to demand recognition of the union at The Root, an African-American-focused news site owned by Univision, which is also Fusion’s parent company. All seven of The Root’s editorial employees who aren’t in management positions announced their desire to unionize with the Writers Guild on Oct. 26, but management has yet to respond to their request for voluntary recognition.

“It is really ridiculous that they are not responding to The Root,” Cruz said. “Unions are no longer an anomaly at our company. Pretending that they are is not a great move.”

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