Mike Elk, Politico’s Labor Reporter, Tries to Unionize His Newsroom

Logo, portrait via POLITICO
Logo, portrait via POLITICO
Washington D.C.

Last year, Washington, D.C.-based news organization Politico hired a strident union supporter as a reporter to cover the labor beat. Now, in a move that should surprise no one, that new employee is making a push to organize the organization’s workers.

Labor reporter Mike Elk was just hired in September of 2014, but now, before he hits his first anniversary, the writer is agitating to get employees to join him in unionizing the company.

Elk posted a recent Tweet trumpeting his progress, saying, “As Chris Townsend would say at [United Electrical], we got a beachhead @politico & are moving inland as we are encoutering [sic] almost no opposition.”

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Politico management has seemed receptive to the idea and has yet to make any objections to Elk’s efforts.

But the news organization has been having a tough enough time of late without threats to burden it further with unionization. Only a month ago, Politico reportedly lost one quarter of its staff due to resignations blamed on the harsh management style of the organization’s new boss, Susan Glasser.

For his part, Elk says that Glasser is “the best skipper in the business” and that his efforts to unionize his fellow workers has nothing to do with her.

Further explaining his actions, Elk recently tweeted, “Hey I have unionized every media publication at which I worked – why would @politico be different?”

Besides having a long history of agitating at the places he’s worked, Elk has proved to be a bit too close to his beat — using his position not just to report, but to advocate. And at least once, Elk crossed the line into unethical behavior on the job.

Last October, Huffington Post reported that in 2011 Elk gave stolen press credentials to a construction union leader so the union rep could sneak into a mortgage bankers’ meeting and disrupt it. Elk admitted the deed and later apologized.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com