About Us



Mike Elk, Senior Labor Reporter & Founder

A native of the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Elk split his childhood between the bookies’ parlors of Jeanette with his mother, a laid-off autoworker, and the East End of Pittsburgh with his father, a union rep for the United Electrical Workers.

Dubbed by folk musician J.P. Wright as “the Abner Doubleday of the Digitial Media Unionization Movement”, Elk was noted for his courage as a reporter covering the drug war in Brasil, facing death threats as a labor reporter covering union drives in the South, and for his role in taking on sexual misconduct within the labor movement.
A lifetime member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild, Elk was noted for his leadership in the failed union drive at Politico during the early days of digital media unionization wave.  Fired illegally by Politico, Elk used his NLRB settlement to found Payday Report in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he worked for several years.

In addition, to work his work at Payday, Elk also writes for the Guardian and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Reuters.

As an investigative reporter,  his work was credited by top Obama Administration Disability Official Ari Ne’eman for exposes which persuaded the Obama Administration to end of the use of the subminimum wage for disabled workers on federal administration.  His investigative reporting into poor working conditions for sexual assault survivor advocates led to the cancellation of SRI’s contract on 48 army bases and a massive pay raise for sexual assault survivor advocates.

A graduate of Bucknell University, PUC-RIO, and Woodlands Hills High School, Elk credits his success as a labor reporter to his education in a racially integrated working-class setting at Woodland Hills, the last school district in Pennsylvania under a federal racial integration order.

After spending several years in the South, Elk now lives on the hills overlooking the Monongahela River and the historic Battle of Homestead site in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and drives over 25,000 miles a year all across Appalachia and the South. When Mike isn’t on the road reporting on workers, he can be found listening to Sharon Jones, cooking salmon, studying the Civil War, and rooting for the Buccos.

He can be reached at melk@paydayreport.com or on Twitter @MikeElk.

Oliver Bateman, General Counsel

A native Western Pennsylvanian from a multigenerational union family in Washington County, Oliver Bateman is a proven fighter, scholar, reporter, and lawyer. A former legal history professor at the University of Texas-Arlington, Bateman spent over two decades living in the South and has been published in the Paris Review, the Atlantic, and the New Republic (see his full bibliography and CV here).

Bateman also sits on the board of directors of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and has written extensively on the history of attempts to organize a pro wrestler’s union.  In his capacity as Payday’s General Counsel, he assists with confidential sources, defamation and First Amendment issues, and business operations.

Bateman lives in a row house in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh and remains active in powerlifting and grip sports. He can be reached at oliver.lee1@gmail.com or on Twitter @MoustacheClubUS.