ThinkProgress Editorial Staffers Ratify First Contract

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By Tyrone Richardson

July 26 — Editorial staffers represented by the Writers Guild of America East working at political news website ThinkProgress ratified their first labor contract since gaining representation last year, the union announced.

The three-year collective bargaining agreement was “unanimously ratified” July 25 by the group of about 30 staffers, according to the union. The pact includes a $45,000 minimum wage for reporters and editors, wage increases, 12 weeks of paid family leave, editorial independence language and job security provisions, according to the WGAE.

“This collective bargaining agreement is a testament to the power of content creators who organize in a digital workplace,” WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said in a statement. “The ThinkProgress union bargaining committee came to the table with a set of reasonable demands; and we are pleased that an agreement was reached that reflects their values and worth.”

Ratification Part of National Organizing

ThinkProgress was founded in 2005 by lawyer Judd Legum, who serves as editor-in-chief. Management of the site, which is owned by the Washington-based Center for American Progress Action Fund, in September 2015 agreed to recognize the WGAE as the collective bargaining representative for its editorial staff.

ThinkProgress is one of about a half dozen digital newsrooms to be organized by the WGAE within the past year, part of the union's campaign to improve wages and other workplace conditions in digital news media, union officials have told Bloomberg BNA.

WGAE members have ratified first labor contracts with Gawker and Vice Media. The union has also successfully organized digital journalists at news sites Salon Media and Huffington Post.

As for ThinkProgress, Legum released a written statement to Bloomberg BNA July 26 lauding the ratified contract.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with the ThinkProgress union that all parties were able to embrace enthusiastically,” he said in the statement. “As progressives, we believe it is important to live out our values. That is the spirit in which we came to the negotiating table and it is in that same spirit that we move forward. Ultimately, we believe that together we can create an even stronger publication and workplace.”

Contract Offers Wage Increases

In addition to wage minimums and provisions for job security, the ThinkProgress pact includes:

  •  up to a $5,000 raise for bargaining unit members hired before Jan. 1, 2014;
  •  a 2.5 percent raise in the first year for workers earning up to $60,000 annually;
  •  a 2 percent raise in the first year for bargaining unit members earning between $60,000 and $110,000;
  •  revenue sharing equal to 1 percent of ThinkProgress’s 2015 ad revenue divided in equal dollar amounts among the bargaining unit;
  •  a merit-based bonus to be paid at CAP's discretion out of an additional 0.5 percent of total ad revenue;
  •  no change in the percentage of health benefit premiums that CAP pays; any changes will have to be negotiated with the Guild; and
  •  continuation of the 401(k) with automatic 3 percent employer contribution and 2 percent profit sharing to bargaining unit employees.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at

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