“None of this was because we were incredibly unhappy or incredibly put upon at Gawker,” Ms. Merlan said. “Everyone agrees that the company is really working well right now. It was more like, ‘Let’s formalize this great thing we have.’ ”

The staff members, who voted 80 to 27 on June 3 to join the Writers Guild of America East, emphasized that their union contract, which will be worked out in the coming months, would look nothing like your grandfather’s.

No pricey pension plans, some argued. No promotions based solely on seniority. No set hours for a given workweek. No prohibitions against layoffs.

“We all looked at unions of the past, and that wasn’t what we wanted,” said Michael Ballaban, 27, a staff writer at Jalopnik, a car site, who ticked off a few of the no-nos. “We all recognize that layoffs can be an essential part of a company’s survival.”

Instead, the organizers focused on points they thought everyone could rally around: the need for good severance pay; salary minimums for each position; annual meetings with supervisors to discuss performance, salary and promotions; and a bar against changes to the company health plans without union approval.

At Gawker Media, New Economy Workers Strive to Form a New Kind of Union – NYTimes.com.