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Staff at Washingtonian recently created the Washingtonian Guild, a union slated for the magazine to secure greater protection for workers and give them a greater voice in the company. So far, Washingtonian Media CEO Cathy Merrill–even after walking back her op-ed written in The Washington Post, which threatened to demote workers for staying remote as the pandemic eases—will not voluntarily recognize the Washingtonian Guild as a union.

Writers and journalists are highly specialized workers, and good ones are few and far between. Even if you’re a good writer or journalist, breaking into the editorial world is notoriously difficult. To successfully enter into the editorial world, you sometimes have to go through a period where you are doing uncompensated work, with no guarantee and a low probability that such unpaid work will pay off in the long run.

Both Kashino and Sidman say that unionizing is about much more than Cathy Merrill’s op-ed in The Washington Post. They say staffers at the magazine have discussed unionizing for years as a way to address concerns about pay, diversity and a lack of transparency in company decision-making.

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