Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Wednesday January 9, 2019

Refinery29 Unionizes with the Writers Guild of America, East

NEW YORK, NY (January 9, 2019) — The editorial staff at the feminist digital media company Refinery29 has unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). A clear majority of the 40-member staff has signed union cards and called on management to voluntarily recognize the Guild as its collective bargaining representative.

In addition to Refinery29, the WGAE represents digital-first staffs at Vox Media, Onion Inc., HuffPost, VICE, The Dodo, Thrillist, The Intercept, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Fast Company, and Gizmodo Media Group. The WGAE now represents nearly 5,000 writers in film, television, news and new media.

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “We are proud to start the New Year by welcoming Refinery29’s editorial staff to our union and to the labor movement. The people who write and edit for Refinery29 have demonstrated that joining together to bargain collectively is an integral part of the broader movement for social justice, inclusion, and meaningful engagement in the workplace”

The Refinery29 Organizing Committee issued the following statement explaining why they are organizing:

The editorial staff of Refinery29 is excited to announce we’re unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. As the next-gen media and entertainment company, Refinery29 is a unique and necessary voice for women all across the world. As employees, we are encouraged every day to feel, see, and claim our power. The values that Refinery29 has instilled in us from day one — Imagination, Individuality, Inclusivity, and Impact — have encouraged us to come together and organize in hopes that Refinery29 can continue to grow and achieve its greatest potential.

Every day we watch our coworkers, a majority of whom are women, make contributions and execute ideas that make Refinery29 unlike any other media outlet — but that doesn’t mean we are immune to the challenges our industry is currently facing. By organizing, we hope to protect our progressive, creative, and fearless spirit by giving employees a seat at the table, including during the times when Refinery29 must decide how it will adapt to the shifting media landscape. Additionally, we want to ensure our voice comprises diverse, fairly-paid and excited employees, who have no trouble seeing a future at the company.

In recent years, fellow digital media companies have been strengthened by their employees’ decisions to unionize. We are excited to join our peers at Fast Company, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, MTV News, Onion Inc., Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, The Dodo, The Intercept, ThinkProgress, Thrillist, VICE, and Vox Media in their efforts to preserve their newsrooms.

We are proud of working at an outlet that believes in encouraging women to challenge the status quo, in their lives and in the world. We believe that unionizing is the best way, and the feminist answer, to address our workplace issues. This way we’ll be able to continue publishing stories and creating content that serve as a catalyst for women to see, feel, and claim their power. We hope that Refinery29 will voluntarily recognize our union and that together we can begin building a stronger and more equitable organization that will inspire women for years to come.

Specifically, we plan to address: 

Refinery29 makes a good-faith effort to keep employees updated and often provides open forums for employees to ask questions and be part of the conversation. However, when it comes to times of change, growth, or shift, we need to have a seat at the table. As a union, Refinery29 employees will have a say when it’s time to talk about our future. 

There is nothing Refinery29 champions more than the necessity of diversity in our coverage and our world. We hope to work with management to strengthen Refinery29’s already inclusive spirit, putting an intentional focus on both hiring people from historically underrepresented communities and on promoting these employees within the company. This also requires formal processes for acknowledging and rectifying when the company falls short of embracing our radical inclusivity value.

Once hired at Refinery29, we want employees to feel at home and visualize a long future with the company. However, the promise of a future can only be sustained with clear paths of growth, fair and matching compensation and clear severance plans.

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit


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