Barstool Settles with NLRB
A four month investigation has been settled with minimal penalties
Four months ago, chief stool at Barstool Sports Dave Portnoy tweeted that he would fire any employee who tried to organize on the spot. He then went on a twitter tirade about unions, said he would smash any employee union effort, set up a fake twitter account entitled “Barstool Sports Union (@BSSUNION),” and started selling t-shirts with his face on them that said, “Union Buster.”
“Would prefer to stay anonymous right now in beginning stages of unionization. DM. Serious inquiries only,” the account tweeted out Aug. 13.
At the time, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the AFL-CIO tweeted back at Portnoy to inform him that his tweets were violations of labor law. Four months later the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed. In an informal settlement reached between the company and the board, Barstool agreed to delete all of the tweets referencing a staff union. They also found that Portnoy or his associates created the Twitter account to lure in employees who were interested in organizing. The account has been deleted.
“The resolution of these charges reflects that there will be zero tolerance for anti-union efforts to threaten, restrain or coerce workers in the editorial industry,” said Industrial Workers of the World attorney Benjamin N. Dictor, who filed the charges against Barstool, in an interview with Bloomberg.
While Portnoy hasn’t commented since the settlement was announced, he did say in a Facebook and Youtube video that it was just “really just narcissism to try to get a retweet from the president.”
While Portnoy may have thought that this was all one big joke, the reality is that he scared workers into going through with the organizing effort. This also shows the weakness in labor law towards employers who behave this way. While Ocasio-Cortez is taking a victory lap on Twitter, there was no real punishment. They were told to take down some tweets and videos that were months old, but the message was clearly made to any workers thinking of organizing. There were no fines, no real penalties, just a warning from the NLRB not to do it again. No wonder 41% of employers union-bust.