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Gimlet & Ringer Unions Detail Their First Historic Contracts With Spotify

Published Friday, April 9, 2021
by Ashley Carman/The Verge
Gimlet & Ringer Unions Detail Their First Historic Contracts With Spotify

(NEW YORK CITY) - Gimlet Media and The Ringer agreed on a three-year Union Employment Contract with Spotify, marking a historic moment for both the Tech Giant and the Podcasting Industry.

The contracts cover diversity at the company, salary bases, annual raises and titles.

It’s a big step - not just for Unionization in podcasting, but also for the tech industry overall, which has been slow to take up Unionization and faced Union Busting tactics when they do.

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) - which represents Gimlet and The Ringer, publicized the contract details: Salary minimums begin at $57,000, plus overtime for The Ringer Staff and $73,000 for Gimlet Media Associate Producers; All Union Members are guaranteed at least a 2% annual increase, and if they’re laid off, they’ll receive at least 11 weeks of severance; Management also guarantees that at least 50% of candidates for open unit positions after the phone interview stage will be from under-represented backgrounds, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and Military Veterans; and Contractors also must either be offered a full-time job after 10 months or the companies must let them know 30 days in advance that they will not be brought on full-time.

Notably missing from the contract, however, is any clause about intellectual property, a sticking point Union Members tweeted about and said was a difficult agreement to reach.

The Union Members wanted to own their work and control what happened to it after its creation, which would also mean profiting from that work and sharing in the revenue.

“As it stands, that is where we are - we do not have control over intellectual property in our contract, we do not have control over derivative works in our contract,” says Dan Devine, a Staff Writer at The Ringer. “That’s certainly something to keep working on as we go forward and other Media Shops do as well.”

Of course, intellectual property was always something Spotify would be hard-pressed to cede control or revenue over because it’s a big part of its podcast strategy - building shows that could be turned into movies or TV shows in the future.

Other WGAE contracts, including Vox Media’s, do account for intellectual property.

Vox’s, for example, pays Union Members up to $100,000 in some instances for derivative works based on their reporting.

Spotify still needs to reach one more contract agreement with its Parcast Podcast Network, but presumably, the Gimlet and Ringer contracts will serve as a reference point for those future conversations.

The agreements were reached last month, during a particularly dicey time for Gimlet Media.

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