Overwork is a problem that Elk plans on addressing in his union drive. “I can’t work the kind of hours I did when I was 24,” says Elk, who is 28. Putting in too many work hours, he says, is a problem of journalism as an industry and not exclusive to Politico. “Everyone works so much, it’s almost tough to get people to get together to talk about” forming a union, he says.
In addition to such logistical problems, Elk will have to clear other hurdles in organizing Politico. Though its reporters and editors do indeed work insane hours, Politico has a reputation for paying good salaries. In recent years, the Erik Wemple Blog has interviewed many of workers who’ve left Politico, and traditional union issues — pay, vacation, benefits and so on — have rarely figured into the discussions. Another impediment is mobility. In building an aggressive publication, Politico’s leaders have infused employment in Rosslyn with considerable cachet, as recent raiding expeditions by the New York Times, CNN and others have demonstrated. Frustrated employees who might be inclined to unionize can just as easily choose a new employer.