Finance

A.V. Club staff members lose their jobs after refusing a move to Los Angeles.

The staff of The A.V. Club, the Chicago-based pop culture website published by G/O Media, was given a choice: accept a relocation to Los Angeles or leave the publication with a severance package. On Tuesday, seven people on the staff said they had decided to stay put — and give up their jobs.

The group of employees, which includes editors and a senior writer, represents nearly half of The A.V. Club’s editorial team, according to its online masthead. The seven who refused the move are among the publication’s longest-tenured journalists.

The A.V. Club got its start in 1993 as a supplement of The Onion, the satirical newspaper founded in Madison, Wis., in 1988. For most of the last two decades it has been based in The Onion’s Chicago office.

“In a time when employers have become increasingly flexible about where their employees live and work, G/O Media forcing workers to relocate to one of the most expensive cities in the world without proper compensation — and during one of the pandemic’s worst surges — is mind-boggling at best,” the Onion Union, which represents A.V. Club employees, said in a statement. “At worst, it is shortsighted and cruel.”

A G/O Media spokesman, Mark Neschis, said in an email, “We are sorry that these Chicago staffers will not be making the move with The A.V. Club to Los Angeles.” On the matter of compensation, he said, “We do regular compensation audits and we feel The A.V. Club’s pay scales are very competitive with the rest of the industry, and look forward to attracting top candidates to join the site.”

Mr. Neschis added that the relocation plan, which is meant to place the publication closer to the industry it covers, was shared with the staff more than two years ago. That timeline was disputed by the Writers Guild of America, East, the union body that the Onion Union is affiliated with. A spokesman for the guild said that A.V. Club employees learned of the plan Dec. 2, when they were told “that they either move to L.A. or lose their job.”

“That was the first time it was made known to staff the move to L.A. was mandatory,” the Writers Guild spokesman added.

In addition to The Onion and The A.V. Club, G/O Media is the publisher of digital outlets that were once part of Gawker Media, including Gizmodo, Jezebel and Deadspin. In 2019, G/O Media was sold by its previous owner, Univision, to Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm.

Laura Adamczyk, an editor who oversees The A.V. Club’s books section, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that she would be leaving the publication where she has worked for nearly six years. “The irony is that I’ve been thinking about moving to L.A. for personal reasons but I can’t for a company that treats its workers like this,” she wrote.

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