John Oliver, Samantha Bee Throw Support Behind Unionizing The Onion

More than 90 percent of staff at Onion Inc. voted to unionize

More than 90 percent of staff at Onion Inc. voted to unionize. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

More than 150 writers and comedians are supportive of staff at The Onion unionizing, including Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Chris Gethard, who signed a statement of support.

More than 90 percent of staff at Onion Inc., which includes The Onion, A/V Club and Clickhole, voted last week to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), the group said in a statement.

The company has yet to voluntarily recognize the guild as its staff’s collective bargaining representative, the group said.

“We are dedicated to providing an environment where all our employees can thrive and we respect their right to unionize,” an Onion Inc. spokesman said in a statement provided to Adweek. “We have begun having discussions with the WGAE about the path forward and hope to arrive at an arrangement in short order.”

The company has yet to voluntarily recognize the guild as its staff’s collective bargaining representative, according to WGAE.

“Solidarity is a fundamental part of our union’s strength,” WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said in a statement. “Our members collaborate in their work and in their union, and we are proud that the editorial and production employees at Onion, Inc. will become part of this community of creative professionals.”

The statement in full reads:

We are proud to welcome the creative staff of Onion, Inc. to the Writers Guild of America, East. Amid rapid media and political changes, media professionals continue to stand together to uphold and improve working conditions and freedom of creative expression. Our work is collaborative and standing together as union members is a logical expression of that collaboration. As comedy and entertainment writers, we applaud Onion Inc.’s inclusionary vision—with The Onion, ClickHole, The A.V. Club, Onion Labs, and the essential contributions of Onion Inc.’s video and art departments—coming together to build a union. We’re thrilled to stand with our colleagues.

WGAE also represents staff members at other outlets that have recently unionized, including Gizmodo Media Group, Vox Media,  HuffPost, VICE, The Intercept, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Thrillist and Salon.

A vote to unionize hasn’t been successful in all newsrooms. For example, DNAinfo and Gothamist shut down in November, just days after employees voted to unionize.


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.