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Home / Business / "Not all fun and memories": BuzzFeed News employees plan to form a union

"Not all fun and memories": BuzzFeed News employees plan to form a union



Last year, BuzzFeed hit more than 220 employees, or 15 percent of the workforce. On Tuesday, employees of the company's news department responded with the announcement that they were planning to form a union.

"It's not so funny and memes," the organizational committee said in a statement. "Our employees have been organizing for months, and we have legitimate complaints about unfair pay quotas, diversified fluctuations and redundancies, weak benefits, skyrocketing costs, diversity and much more."

More than 40 of those who lost their jobs in the last layoff worked in the company's agencies in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The cuts included all seven members of the BuzzFeed News national desk and its seven-person security group.

BuzzFeed's revenue increased by more than 15 percent in 2018, but that gain was not enough to stave off the decision of the founder, Jonah Peretti, to reduce the number of employees. In an email to the employees before firing, Mr. Peretti wrote, "Unfortunately, the growth itself is not enough to succeed in the long run."

The Murmurs of a Union began among the company's employees in 2015, when a group of employees met with NewsGuild in New York to discuss the issue of pay differential, especially in terms of women and color workers. The group continued its efforts this fall, when more than 50 employees attended a meeting at the NewsGuild office.

The work losses have further motivated the organizers, according to Dominic Holden, a political reporter at BuzzFeed News and a member of the Organizing Committee. Davey Alba, a senior technology reporter, said, at his discretion, that "about 90 percent" of qualified BuzzFeed employees supported the idea.

A spokesman for BuzzFeed did not respond immediately to the organizational work. Ben Smith, editor of BuzzFeed News, said in a statement: "We look forward to meeting with the organizers to discuss a way to voluntarily recognize their union."

BuzzFeed workers have already had success in challenging management. Days after the resignation, about 600 current and former employees signed an open letter written on Medium that pushed Mr. Peretti and other executives to compensate the closed employees for unused holiday and days off as part of their exit packages.

It worked. Hours after the letter was published, Peretti informed the staff that he would provide the request.

In an interview with The New York Times in November, Mr. Peretti answered a solution to the fleeting economic landscape that now affects digital media companies: a number of mergers among the best internet publishers, including Vice, Vox Media, Group Nine Media and Refinery29, Peretti argued that if BuzzFeed and these companies were to unite, they would be better able to negotiate favorable terms with powerful technical platforms such as Facebook.

"He clearly understands the value of collective bargaining," Mr. Holden said. "And we agree with him that collective action is crucial to ensuring a right nice deal. "


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