MTV News staff votes to unionize under Writers Guild of America, East – Los Angeles Times
Members of the editorialÂ staff of MTV News, the youth-focused viral media division of MTV, have voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East, the union announced on Friday.
New York-based MTV News said its editorial staff consists mostly of freelance contractors who currently are given a defined employment term of either three months, one yearÂ or two years, without benefits, healthcareÂ or severance pay.Â
â€œA minority of MTV News team members are considered staff, which comes with healthcare and benefits,â€ said the divisionâ€™s union organizing committee in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
The committee said that about 50 individuals from the editorial staff are eligible to be represented by the Writers Guild. It remains unclear how large the MTV New editorial staff is.Â MTV, which is owned by Viacom, declined to comment.Â
â€œWe don’t have an exact count on the total size of the MTV News staff, so we would rather not comment on that,â€ the union organizing committee told the Times.
The committee said in a separate letter to staff members that it was seeking full healthcare and other benefits for employees. It also mentioned President Trump in its efforts to obtain legal protections afforded to journalists. Â
â€œUnder the new Trump administration, we are acutely aware of how necessary our constitutional rights are, and how much we need legal protection,â€ the letter stated. â€œInÂ order for us to produce our best work, all writers, editors, reportersÂ and producers must be given proper protection against the threat of legal actions from politicians, pop starsÂ and other public figures.â€Â
More than 80% of MTV Newsâ€™Â editorial staff haveÂ signed cards electing the Writers Guild of America, East as their representative in collective bargaining, the union said in a release. The union represents writers in film, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news.
MTV News produces online videos andÂ articles that are geared toward young audiences. Its editorial content focuses primarily on celebrity culture, entertainment, social justice and politics.
In December, it published an online video titled â€œ2017 Resolutions for White Guysâ€ in whichÂ a diverse cast of millennials proclaimed that â€œAmerica was never great for anyone who wasnâ€™t a white guyâ€ and â€œâ€™Blue Lives Matterâ€™ isnâ€™t a thing.â€ The video received a strong public backlash. MTV NewsÂ subsequently pulled the video, but versions of itÂ remain online.
2:08Â p.m.:Â This article was updated with additional information provided by the MTV News Unionizing Committee.
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