Help a Freelance Labor Reporter Afford Summer Vacation in Appalachia

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Backpacker Magazine)


Right-wing publications have mocked me in the past for raising money for vacations. However, as a freelance labor reporter, I don’t have paid vacation days. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. The only way for me to afford a vacation is to crowdraise money.

This year, I want to go to the Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee and do some hiking in the New River Gorge in Southern West Virginia. Hopefully, I could take a week off, drive, and stay cheaply along the way.

However, I need to earn money for that week off, pay for expenses on the road so I need to raise $2,000 to make my summer vacation plans a reality.

Help Us Reach Our Goal of $2,000

$1,878 / $1,500

Donate Here!

Writing over three dozens stories on the teachers strike, I worked harder than I have in my decade on the labor beat.  

I was the only labor reporter who was on the ground in four different states with teachers strikes; being on the ground for the duration of teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and in North Carolina.

In addition to this work, I filed over a dozen dispatches from the historic Nissan union election in Canton, Mississippi as well as filing over a dozen dispatches the role of labor in the bellwether Pa-18 special election.

Payday has achieved a lot in the past year.

Not only did we put out more stories on the teachers strike on the ground than any other national publication, but we helped to set the standard for reporting on the teachers’ strikes. Reporters at the New York Times said that the Times often read Payday before reading other publications on the teachers’ strike.

Long before national publications started talking about a wave of union organizing in the South, Payday was predicting back in 2016 that the South was on the verge of a massive union uprising if only reporters would cover it.

Our work has been blazed a trail for many reporters to follow and has been cited widely in The Guardian, USA Today Network,  HuffPost, Politico,  Esquire, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Columbia Journalism Review, Al-Jazeera, Knoxville News Sentinel, Democracy Now!, and CBS Pittsburgh. In addition, journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg, and reporters from other nationals outlets routinely link to our work on Twitter.

As a small publication, we have already achieved big results: forcing the DNC to pay its interns, getting a staffer fired for sexual misconduct, and most importantly, forcing corporate owned media outlets to cover stories that they wouldn’t cover. State record requests show that even top union-busting officials read Payday and can be caught swearing about it (see “Documents Show University of Tennessee President Swearing About Payday Article on Campus Workers’ Victory”)

So help us take some badly needed time off and donate today. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered the labor movement & the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: [email protected]

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