'I've Come To Bargain'

Ever been a part of a historical event?

'I've Come To Bargain'

I was approaching my second month at The Root, and I had heard about the GMG Union and that our contract would expire. Insert hair-on-fire emoji thinking you just started a new job, and it was about to go out on strike. Nuts! But, I realized a lot of stories mirrored my own, and that was more than enough to be all in.

In my hiring process for The Root, I was told the salary minimum was $55,000 and that the union set it, so they couldn’t go higher. That couldn’t be. At the time, I had seven years of journalism experience, including being a senior editor and writer at two different places while I worked a full-time job. But then my offer letter game, and it was amended to $58,500. There was a senior writer position open, and it wasn’t even mentioned to me, despite my inklings.

In speaking to many of the creators on the picket line, a lot of these experiences echoed one another. Immensely talented people from writers, video editors, graphic designers at Jezebel, Kotaku, Gizmodo, The Root, I09, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, etc were not paid what they were worth despite a lot of being asked of them—and in some cases, under hired.

It was a no-brainer to join the bargaining committee —my first. I was a newbie, but I felt it was important to be a Black voice at the negotiating table, no matter how long my tenure was. The bargaining team never made me feel like an outlier or an outsider —I was just one of a big collective trying to make history. We negotiated for long hours and weekends up until two hours before the contract expired. Even with all these forces working against us, we fought for each other and the union.

(I mean, look at what we got below!)

I believe in journalism and that we can make a workplace that elevates their creativity and livelihoods, not hinder it. Every word, video, and graphic on these sites are from people who believe in it, too. It was worth the long nights, the Zoom meetings, the documents, and the fight to get these wins. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Arcy and Terri are immaculate, intelligent leaders, and it was dope to learn so much for them. The bargaining team is full of smart, brilliant, vibrant people who believed in every single item you see above and fought like hell. I’m proud to call them friends.

And the union members. Ahh, man. I’ve never been more inspired by action in my life. Many of them had a lot of financial uncertainty and even started a week before the strike. But they were still on the picket lines and in the trenches with us daily. I hope all of you know how valued you are in a profession that doesn’t always show it. We were all a part of history, and we deserve everything we won.

(I will never get the strike chants out of my head. Honestly, I don’t really want to.)