Merrill told The Daily Beast in an interview, “I have assured our team that there will be no changes in performance or employee status.” In an email to Washington employees, Merrill also reportedly stated that she would not move full-time workers to freelance positions and that no one would be at risk of retirement or health insurance.
For context, contract or freelance positions tend not to come with benefits like 401 (k) matching or paid time off, nor do they offer health insurance. Of course, they are also associated with less overall job security and protection. All great things to be aware of at all times, but especially during a pandemic.
There’s a lot going on here. Merrill goes back to the details of the comment and relies on a few anecdotal stories and many personal opinions to justify her reasoning. At one point, Merrill announced that a friend with a Fortune 500 company was having difficulty providing adequate feedback to a new hire in a remote setting and that no one wants to give bad news about Zoom. Sure, no one ever wants to bring bad news, but this is a classic example of management having to do exactly what is often asked of lower status and lower pay employees: be flexible, adapt, and live up to the occasion. Learn some new skills and give the employee the appropriate feedback regardless of the medium.
Merrill also suggests that unattended remote workers just aren’t that much part of the corporate culture for “extra” work like planning birthday parties and quick meetings. That can be true when, of course, the people in the office are not working to integrate everyone. Does that require a little more effort and a change in the previous situation? For sure. But again, it is the responsibility of management to ensure that the work areas keep up with the changing times.
It’s also worth noting that management could hire people in HR or similar roles to prioritize things like corporate parties, mentoring opportunities, etc. The addition of these potentially subjective and changing standards for “extras” puts an unfair burden on employees, especially when these tasks are performed in addition to their actual work. It is also worth considering that marginalized workers may feel an added burden of “proving” themselves by going beyond these types of tasks, leading to potentially unbalanced job performance.
Washington workers bravely went public and announced their one-day strike, the news of which quickly caught on on Twitter.
The text reads: “As members of the Washington editorial office, we want our CEO to understand the risks of not judging our work. We are dismayed at Cathy Merrill’s public threat to our livelihoods. We won’t publish today. “
And here is a moving picture of all of these tweets put together.
By and large, media burnout is very real. Writers (including staff and freelancers) have been dealing mentally and intellectually with trauma, unpredictability, and rapidly changing topics for months. Authors are expected to switch topics to cover it quickly, to write accurately, and to endure the emotional weight of the topics that many people prefer to turn away from. Merrill’s comment would feel out of place even in relation to any other industry, but at a time when the media is increasingly talking about the well-being of the editorial staff and the very real billing the industry is facing in terms of labor, shelter, and wells Must As an employee, Merrill’s embassy is a particularly painful sport.