At our bargaining session last Friday, Daily Kos Guild had approximately 30 DKG members present as observers. Our bargaining committee sat across the table from representatives from DKM—two members of the Daily Kos PeopleOps (Human Resources) team, and the Daily Kos labor legal advisor.
We think it essential to clarify that these are the usual representatives for DKM—and they have been the only representatives we have met at the bargaining table since October 2022. Neither Daily Kos' president nor founder has been present for a single bargaining session. No other representatives from senior management have attended a meeting.
While we understand that DKM is free to choose whomever they like as bargaining representatives, it bears mentioning that the PeopleOps team are recent hires who started in 2022. They don’t have the organizational and institutional knowledge of our executive leadership, our central role in the progressive organizing space, or our Community. They are not equipped to make decisions or answer questions about our finances or future plans. We believe it would be beneficial to everyone if our president or founder attended these calls.
Internally at Daily Kos, the latest update—posted on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, to our internal staff communications—was made by a member of the PeopleOps team. (For the record, the only public notification of potential layoffs at Daily Kos has been delivered by the DKG.)
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for today, Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 1:15 PM PT. Until then, our members will continue to examine the documents we received in response to our information request, which unfortunately arrived after deadline and only an hour before our bargaining session began Friday. DKM's negotiators have stated their intent to negotiate—not declare—the terms of any staff reconfiguration, and we intend to hold them to their word.
Actually, we would like to be treated at the bargaining table as equal partners in the process, as we deserve. If we were able to have a frank conversation with management, we might say something along these lines:
We want to cut right to the chase. If you really feel the need to cut Daily Kos’ people costs, start by offering employee buyouts. There are multiple reasons for this. First, on the coldest, pure-cash level, you may find that those of us who feel we have options to go elsewhere will do so. Second, you’re very likely to find that those same people will leave after the layoffs are over, anyway; you’ll end up with unplanned gaps and shortages, and face costly rehiring for roles you expected to retain. Finally, offering your people a voluntary buyout rather than hitting us with layoffs leaves us still holding our sense of agency. It preserves dignity, and that’s something with value no matter what else is happening.
When the buyout period is over, we can work together to make up the difference. Some ideas: offer the option for people to reduce hours, or even job share. You may even find that some of us are willing to shift to part-time work, or accept decreased benefits. Maybe not. But ask us. Again, let us keep as much control as possible over the course of our own careers.
This situation is painful, but it doesn’t have to be cruel.
Then, if buyouts and voluntary reductions in work hours haven’t netted the savings you need, talk to the Community. They are a huge part of the value of the site. They’re our extended family. Tell them the steps you’ve taken. Tell them what it will take to keep what’s left. If you give the Community the chance to be a part of the decision, they will be much more accepting of the outcome—no matter what happens next.
Finally, if the reason for not taking these steps is because you’ve already developed a vision for where Daily Kos is going, and that vision defines where these cuts need to happen, then share it with us. Don’t keep us in the dark. We all want to come through this with a degree of acceptance, but that requires understanding, and we have not been apprised of the plan for the future of Daily Kos. So help us understand what you’re doing.
Some of us are going to be gone. Daily Kos is going to move on. Help both those things happen with all possible grace and respect.
Daily Kos Guild members
We hope that Daily Kos management reads our request and gives it the consideration it deserves. Help us get senior management to the bargaining table so we can work through this together.
Daily Kos Guild (DKG) represents 54 Daily Kos staff members and another 6 "disputed" positions, accounting for 68% of Daily Kos' total workforce. DKG is a Pacific Media Workers Guild member, a local of the NewsGuild/Communication Workers of America, and was certified as the bargaining unit of represented staff in 2022.
As a member of The NewsGuild/Communication Workers of America, we stand in solidarity with our colleagues across the country, especially with our colleagues at The Washington Post. Daily Kos Guild will not let our democracy die in darkness.