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On the Vox Media “Blackout”

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Unbeknownst to me or any of the staff at TCB, the Vox Media Union was in negotiations with Vox, the parent company of SB Nation and TCB, over higher wages. Yesterday, quite abruptly and without prior warning, the union broke off negotiations, and at least some within the union called for a “blackout” by SB Nation sites as a protest against Vox Media.

I first heard about this last night during the Astros exciting extra-inning baseball game while I was writing an article and taking notes for the recap.

The labor issues that Vox has are well known to long time readers of this website who remember the demise of the excellent management of this website in early 2018. I am sure that everyone on the present staff including myself sympathizes with the demands of the full time Vox employees who are exercising their right to collectively bargain.

But the writers at SB Nation sites are not union members but rather contract workers or outright volunteers. The union has not consulted with us, it does not negotiate on our behalf, some in the SB Nation community are even concerned that the union negotiators are working against the interests of SB Nation contract workers, although I do not personally know if this is true.

Speaking for myself only, while again sympathizing with the rights and goals of the union, I do not believe it is reasonable for them to expect SB Nation to shut down on their behalf, when they have not to my knowledge consulted with us in their negotiations, or informed us of the status of the negotiations. We do not know what their demands are, or if their demands would even be beneficial to SB Nation contractors. They just abruptly ended their negotiations, and some expected immediate and unquestioning support from uninformed site managers at SB Nation by shutting down the sites in solidarity.

Some union supporters have gone on twitter calling SB Nation contractors “scabs.” A scab is a worker used to replace another worker on strike and is used by management to break that strike. We are not replacement workers, we are not union members, we have not been asked to join a union, nor did the union even make any kind of official request asking for SB Nation support for their strike. That we were being called scabs in social media was as shocking as a lightning bolt. The vast majority of us, including myself, did not even know there was a brewing labor issue when this suddenly hit the news yesterday afternoon.

I will not participate in the blackout. I did not take this job for the money but because I love being a part of this community. I am sure that much is true for the entire staff. If Crawfish Boxes goes on strike, it would be a strike against you, our fellow Astros fans. loyal readers, and dear friends. I definitely understand and sympathize with the concerns of the Vox union. I can even agree with them that Vox may be taking advantage of the loyalty its contractors feel to their readers. But still, I came on board at a time when this website and community were floundering, and I cannot bring myself to shut it down.

I consider this a matter of conscience, and if anyone else on the staff wants to support the union that is their decision as far as I’m concerned.

But I’m not hitting the delete button. I worked too hard on two articles last night to do that anyway.