Amidst a pandemic, Guild members at The Daily Beast negotiated a contract that eliminates NDAs, codifies equity-based pay structures, and implements DEI opportunities and protections.
New York—Members of The Daily Beast Union overwhelmingly ratified a two-year agreement that codifies unprecedented protections for media workers and ushers in a shift in newsroom culture that fosters transparency, inclusion, and greater accountability.
Prior to the pandemic, the Daily Beast Union’s bargaining committee reached agreement on several contractual milestones. Considering it a matter of workplace safety, the bargaining committee negotiated a prohibition on the company’s use of harassment-related non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for any claims of harassment. Additionally, the agreement voids certain existing NDAs.
While media industry management increasingly tries to claim control over their employees’ social media accounts and private data, members at the Daily Beast successfully bargained for a contractual guarantee protecting their right to full ownership of their private social media accounts. They also secured provisions in the agreement protecting the privacy of those accounts and their contents.
Additionally, Guild members at the Daily Beast fought fiercely and won contract language that addresses discrimination and gender equity in the newsroom. The contract now requires that the Beast holistically identify employees by the names and gender pronouns of their choosing, including replacing dead names on “all publicly available content maintained by the publisher on its platform.” The company must create a safe environment for any worker transitioning, including providing training for employees, collaboratively announcing an employee’s transition (at the employee’s request), and ensuring that amenities are available and safe.
“As part of our jobs, The Beast’s union journalists have consistently stood up against bullying and discrimination—whether it’s reporting on anti-trans legislation, attacks on the LGBTQ community or bigotry from media colleagues,” said Kate Briquelet, senior reporter and unit chair of The Daily Beast Union. “Now our contract ensures that our own newsroom is a more safe and equitable place for our members.”
Company management—at the behest of the bargaining committee and the union’s active diversity committee—has committed to a more inclusive newsroom that will accurately reflect the many communities The Daily Beast serves. Management has agreed that notices of vacant union job positions will be posted with groups that are widespread among underrepresented populations. Importantly, the contract requires that 50% of job applicants who progress beyond the initial interview must be from underrepresented groups. In addition to implementing more transparent processes, like those above, the company also agreed and has already created, alongside the Guild’s Diversity Committee, an annual diversity report that will be shared with members.
“The effectiveness of this committee is dependent on the effort and participation that we all put into it as a unit. We all have a role in this fight, and we must ensure that we are doing what we can in our wheelhouse to guarantee the most underrepresented members have a voice,” said Daily Beast Art Director and Diversity Committee Chair Kelly Caminero. “Our goal is to create a sustainable framework that fosters a safe environment for employees from all backgrounds as well as facilitate career development opportunities.”
Guild members fought for and won unprecedented general wage increases—specifically pushing for greater equity among staffers in eliminating the newsroom wage gap. The committee fought for a progressive wage scale that achieved a 4% increase for members paid $75,000 or less; 2.5% for those members earning between $75,000 and $120,000; 1% for members earning between $120,000 and $150,000; and those earning more than $150,000 will receive a .5%base wage increase after a push from the membership against management’s proposed cap on increases. All raises are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021, and contractual minimums will be increased in accordance with the negotiated salary increases. Members will also receive a tiered work from home stipend to cover professional expenses related to the pandemic.
“This wage scale is historic and due recognition for the hard work of the membership during a testing year,” said Daily Beast Senior Reporter and Vice Chair Lachlan Cartwright. “We hope our contract can be used as a template across the industry to secure fair and equitable raises for journalists.”
“Congratulations to the members of The Daily Beast for reaching an historic agreement eliminating the use of NDAs—the first union contract to do so! You fought for and won a contract that truly makes the Beast a stronger and more inclusive, collaborative newsroom,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York. “This contract clearly demonstrates that it is possible for media companies to agree to terms that value and support their workers, and in the process strengthen their publications and brands for years to come. These are the industry standards and protections that media workers deserve and demand, and to which NewsGuild members are committed to fighting for themselves and their colleagues.”