Politico finally commented on the employment status of labor reporter and union advocate Mike Elk today, confirming that he is no longer employed there. In a statement, Politico said Elk’s departure was unrelated to his drive to unionize the Arlington-based political news outlet.
Mike Elk no longer works at POLITICO. As a long-standing company policy, we do not and will not comment on the specifics of personnel matters. We can say that Mike Elk’s recent departure has nothing to do with his union activities. POLITICO employees have been, and continue to be, free to engage in or refrain from union activities.
The Huffington Post first confirmed details of Elk’s departure.
Politico’s statement is the latest salvo in a multi-day back-and-forth over whether Elk remains on the payroll. Reports began circulating earlier this week that he’d exited from the company amid a heated conversation with Politico Pro editor Marty Kady. His name was scrubbed from the staff directory, and an editor tweeted that he had a vacancy open on the labor staff.
Later in the week, amid days of silence from Politico, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild told Poynter Elk was still a Politico reporter. Elk himself tweeted Thursday that he remained at Politico.
Reached by email Thursday, Elk said Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild guild organizing consultant Bruce Jett told him that “nothing has changed” with regard to his employment status. He also reaffirmed his commitment to the unionization of digital media outlets, citing his father’s work as an organizer as inspiration.
I want to congratulate my father, Gene Elk, on his election as UE Director of Organization at the 74th UE’s Convention in Baltimore yesterday. Growing up a single father, my Dad got a lot of help from the UE raising me and these last few years in my struggle with PTSD. I am doing this because someday I wanna have children and because like my Dad I wanna be able to watch baseball with them and tell them the kind of stories of organizing and solidarity that my dad told me as a kid.
As Marion Washington of UE, who had known me since I was a little baby yesterday, told me yesterday my chief competitor in organizing the unorganized is my dad. I look forward to the challenge.
Elk’s dismissal comes as the unionization movement is gathering steam among digital media organizations. Several online outlets, including Vice and Gawker Media have announced their intentions to organize in recent months, efforts that have largely been met with approval by managers there.
Elk has been a force for unionization in newsrooms he’s joined, successfully organizing the staff at former employer In These Times. His work has been met with resistance at Politico, however. In a conversation with Poynter Tuesday, Elk said that effort was stalled by lack of support from upper management, though he emphasized that he remains optimistic.