This is the next digital newsroom looking to unionize

The Al Jazeera America television broadcast studio in New York.
Photograph by Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

There’s no doubt about it: Digital newsrooms are the new hotbeds of union organizing.

The digital journalists at Al Jazeera America announced that a majority of their newsroom had petitioned to join the NewsGuild of New York that’s part of the Communication Workers of America union, according to statement they released Thursday.

“An overwhelming majority of the digital newsroom has signed on to the effort [to join The NewsGuild of New York, CWA Local 31003], and the group has called on AJAM’s management to voluntarily recognize their union. They are still awaiting a formal response from the company,” the statement said. “Should Al Jazeera refuse to do so, it would be the first journalism outlet in recent months to be forced into a federally supervised election at the National Labor Relations Board.”

Al Jazeera America—a television channel with an accompanying website that’s owned by Al Jazeera Media Network, which is partially funded by the ruling family of Qatar— launched in August 2013. The effort to unionize the channel’s digital journalists was motivated by “a troubling lack of transparency, inconsistent management and lack of clear redress have persisted at AJAM Digital,” the statement said. “Discrepancies in salaries, responsibilities and the way job performance is evaluated undermine our work and the harmony of our workplace.”

The union push comes amid turmoil at Al Jazeera America as several high-profile journalists and executives have left the network recently and it has been sued for discrimination.

The news channel told Fortune in a statement it is “currently considering the request to voluntarily recognize the NewsGuild as the exclusive bargaining representative of the digital department employees.”

Al Jazeera America is the latest digital newsroom to undergo a unionization effort. In August, writers at Vice Media voted to join the Writers’ Guild of America following the lead of journalists at Gawker and Salon, who also voted to unionize in June and July, respectively. That trend—that’s motivated in part by digital journalists’ pursuit of the relatively stable environments and pay scale associated with more traditional media outlets—comes during a decline in overall union membership. It’s at its lowest point—11.1%—since 1983, the first year with comparable date, when the rate was 20.1%.

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