Fishwrapper Staff on Strike, Demanding Higher Wages, More Functional Chairs

Published: December 15, 2018
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Created by Jeremy Voss, Courtesy of Mark Dixon via Flickr

The staff of The Fishwrapper has been on strike since Oct 12, refusing to write (although at peak production, they only write one article every two months), design graphics, or change the font on the website for the fifth time. They cited poor working conditions (no heating at the meeting place) and low (zero) pay.

Rumors have spread among staff members that leadership in The Fishwrapper is prepared to outsource writing and design jobs to UW Bothell and UW Tacoma if the strike does not end soon. The staff is confident that Editor-in-Chief Elle Bernbaum will “come crawling back” after two weeks with those “B-list Huskies.”

All staffers were completely available and eager to comment. “One time at a meeting, the lawn chair that Elle provided me to sit in ripped all the way through. No other chair was provided,” Charlotte Houston, design editor and staff writer, said. “I just sat on the frigid floor.”

The employees demanded a contract that specified a living wage of 15 cents per hour, adequate healthcare to combat the negative effects of a force-fed diet of only spaghetti and $3 Trader Joe’s wine, and an end to hazing rituals such as being commanded to carry around a raw fish wrapped in newspaper all day like they’re high schoolers with flour-babies.

“When I first started working for The Fishwrapper, Elle called me in for what I thought would be an interview,” Alyson Podesta, co-editor, said. “Instead, she forced me to correct each double hyphen on our website to an em dash. Honestly, I feel pretty overqualified for this work. The pads of my fingers are rubbed down to nubs now. To add insult to injury, she proceeded to laugh at my style guide.”

Staffers have also complained of unfair expectations for content production. “During the SCOTUS hearings, Elle requested that we create 35 unique images featuring Kavanaugh’s face for all the articles she was writing about it,” Kevin Gladwell, graphics editor said. “I’m currently seeking psychological treatment to deal with the trauma from having to scroll through so many photos of his heinous face.”

There was one bump in the process, when graphic designer Jeremy Voss showed up for his first meeting in six weeks, having not realized the strike was going on at all. The rest of the staff didn’t think to alert him, since they actually assumed he had started the strike, citing his “hands-off” approach as inspiration.

Writers began to form a picket line outside Bernbaum’s triplex (referred to as “The Bernsler”) just last week, intending to trap her in her unheated home, which can dip down to arctic-level temperatures.

“Let’s see how she likes it when she’s the one who has to survive off only Grocery Outlet corn pasta,” spat staff writer Sophie Aanerud, smirking.

However, they quickly abandoned the protest after 15 minutes of having to yell over the roar of I-5. They also realized that they had to go before Bernbaum saw them, because all of them had previously said they had other engagements at that time last week to avoid having to do the countless tasks that she asked of them.

Opting out of negotiations with the writers, Bernbaum called on freshman writers to take on more writing to keep production high. Instead, production ceased almost immediately. As of now, she is the only one writing for the paper. The strike will likely never end, since this is not much of a change from the norm.

The Fishwrapper staff “hacked” onto the website to post this article, however, the writer of the website’s code Zane Littrell notes, “I don’t think you can really call this hacking.”