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BFN Union

Buzzfeed Journalists Vote to Join NewsGuild

After layoffs at the online media company, the staff began organizing for better pay and job protections

Posted on
Feb 13, 2019

Following layoffs at Buzzfeed, their employees have decided to take back their workplace by voting to join the Newsguild. Find out more about the organizing campaign from Bloomberg.

BuzzFeed Inc.’s U.S. journalists agreed to unionize, saying they would seek better benefits and fair pay after seeing some colleagues lose their jobs last month.

An overwhelming majority of workers were in favor of the decision to join NewsGuild, the labor union that’s part of the Communications Workers of America, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing details of the decision.

BuzzFeed’s move last month to eliminate 15 percent of its headcount gutted several parts of the newsroom, including the national desk and the health desk. Following the layoffs, employees took to Twitter and Medium to criticize the company for failing to pay all dismissed workers for accrued time off. Eventually BuzzFeed management relented.

“We look forward to meeting with the organizers to discuss a way toward voluntarily recognizing their union,” Ben Smith, BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief, said by email.

The cutbacks at BuzzFeed were part of a wave of layoffs at media outlets including Verizon Communications Inc.’s HuffPost division and Gannett Inc.’s newspapers, as publishers continue to struggle to find profitable business models.

The tumult has led journalists at several outlets to opt for collective bargaining. Employees at Mashable, Vice Media and Gizmodo Media Group have all voted to join unions in the last couple of years, and while that hasn’t prevented layoffs, it has in some cases cushioned the blow. Unionized journalists at HuffPost, for example, were reportedly entitled to at least two months of severance pay because of their collective bargaining agreement.

“We want to remain spry and competitive, but we reject the argument that we must choose between freelancing in a hellscape gig economy for vampirical platforms or submitting to the whims of a corporation that botches basic HR tasks,” the BuzzFeed News Union said in a statement.

The workers asked for BuzzFeed management to recognize the union.

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