Citing mismanagement, pay disparities and job cuts, BuzzFeed News employees walked off the job on Monday afternoon in the hopes of getting the online-media company to voluntarily recognize their union.
Employees in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco are taking part in the protests, according to the NewsGuild of New York. Plans for the walkout were first reported by Bloomberg News.
Video of the walkout showed BuzzFeed employees standing outside the company’s New York office chanting and carrying signs that said “Recognize the BuzzFeed Union!!” There was also a giant inflatable rat -- a common form of protest by striking trade unions.
The staffers are taking a page from employees at Vox Media, who staged a walkout earlier this month and soon clinched their first labor agreement.
the @bfnewsunion is walking out to demand that management make us a FAIR offer and recognize us today. pic.twitter.com/Utruy37Z2I
— Rachel Sanders (@rachelysanders) June 17, 2019
Despite four months of negotiations, BuzzFeed News employees and management still can’t agree on which workers are eligible to be part of the new bargaining unit -- a question that unions and companies frequently spar over.
“Throughout the process, BuzzFeed has attempted to exclude workers they claim are managerial, supervisory or confidential despite the fact that these journalists neither manage employees nor are privy to confidential information,” according to the statement.
BuzzFeed News staffers agreed to unionize in February, saying they would seek better benefits and fair pay after seeing some colleagues lose their jobs the prior month. Since then, they’ve been calling on BuzzFeed’s management to recognize their union.
“We have legitimate grievances about unfair pay disparities, mismanaged pivots and layoffs, weak benefits, skyrocketing health insurance costs, diversity, and more,” the BuzzFeed News Organizing Committee said in a statement.
In a note to staff Monday, BuzzFeed Chief Executive Officer Jonah Peretti said the company’s journalists refused to accept an offer on June 4 and are “seeking to impose additional demands that threaten our progress around voluntary recognition.” He said the company needed a way to identify employees who are included and excluded from the bargaining unit.
“Our proposal is both responsive to our employees’ requests, and mindful of the way the company operates,” Peretti said.
In January, BuzzFeed eliminated 15% of its headcount, part of a wave of layoffs at media outlets this year. Publishers like BuzzFeed, once the darlings of the media industry, have struggled to find profitable business models.
The tumult has led journalists at several media outlets to opt for collective bargaining. While that hasn’t prevented layoffs, it has in some cases cushioned the blow. For instance, agreements can help ensure that workers who lose their jobs get severance pay.
Hundreds of Vox Media employees walked off the job earlier this month. A day later, they reached a tentative labor agreement. The union contract includes minimum salary guarantees and four months of paid parental leave, among other things.Artikel Asli