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Barstool Sports Threatens Employees if they Organize

He has continued on Twitter calling his employees property and threatening to sue those who challenge him

Brian Young's picture
Aug 14, 2019

Following the announcement that the staff of The Ringer had decided to organize, Barstool CEO Dave Portnoy felt it was important to let Barstool’s employees know that they will not be gaining a voice on the job. Instead of supporting a staff union, he tweeted a link to a story he wrote in 2015 when Gawker employees decided to organize.

Barstool Sports is based in New York City, so an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor could be forthcoming.

Not everyone on Twitter was attacking Portnoy as noted “Bro” and the self-proclaimed idiot brother Donald Trump Jr weighed in on Portnoy challenging Ocasio Cortez to debate in the “Thunder Dome.” Trump Jr said:

In response, Rafi Letzter, a writer for Live Science and a Writers Guild of America East (WGAEast) member, tweeted the following:

Of course, Portnoy isn’t someone who could just let sleeping dogs lie, so he fired back at Letzter with this tweet:

The tweet set off a firestorm as Portnoy clearly broke the law when he publicly threatened to fire staff members for talking union. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 prohibits bosses from engaging in unfair labor practices, including "to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization."

Over the next day, Portnoy continued to double down on his assertion that he has the right to fire anyone for talking union. He has joked about it on his Instagram stories (listen to UCOMM Live this week for more audio on this), threatened to immediately fire any employee who hires a lawyer to bring NLRB charges against him and promised to sue them for “damages and back wages.” Portnoy also tweeted:

Portnoy is a frequent guest on Tucker Carlson’s show and used Barstool Sports to sell MAGA hats, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he is anti-union. In the aftermath of his initial tweets, Portnoy has also lived up to his “Bro” persona by trolling some of the people who are responding to him, potentially digging himself into a deeper hole.

This isn’t the first time that Barstool has created controversy. In 2011, Portnoy posted a photo of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s 2 year-old son along with some graphic commentary about the child’s genitals. The site has also been accused of normalizing rape, including when Portnoy said "[E]ven though I never condone rape if you're a size 6 and you're wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?"

Following Portnoy’s tweets, several groups and people have weighed in including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and the AFL-CIO. In a tweet to Portnoy, the AFL-CIO included a DM that they had sent to the National Labor Relations Board reporting the violation.

The New York State Department of Labor also issued a statement on Twitter saying that this action is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.

Barstool Sports is based in New York City, so an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor could be forthcoming.

Not everyone on Twitter was attacking Portnoy as noted “Bro” and the self-proclaimed idiot brother Donald Trump Jr weighed in on Portnoy challenging Ocasio Cortez to debate in the “Thunder Dome.” Trump Jr said:

While much of Portnoy’s actions may come across as trolling, the reality is that his flippant attitude towards labor law is a feeling that is shared by many bosses around the country. Thanks to decades of anti-union politicians rolling back labor protections, many companies get away with union busting. Even if they are found guilty, they often only get a slap on the wrist. This is why it is so important that our next President, whichever Democrat they are, work hard to strengthen the NLRB, the NLRA and add real teeth to the regulatory punishments.

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