BuzzFeed Union Votes for Authorizing a Newsroom Strike in the Face of Escalating Tensions

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed Union voted to authorize a newsroom strike amid increasing tensions between management and the digital media company.

More than 90% of The NewsGuild of New York voted for a strike, if BuzzFeed management does not continue “bargaining in bad faith,”In a statement, the group stated.

“BuzzFeed News Union members are ready to do whatever it takes to ensure their Pulitzer-prize winning newsroom continues to operate with integrity and to win a contract that values the essential work they do,”Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York said in a statement. “Their nearly 5,000 Guild colleagues stand with them. It’s time for BuzzFeed management to resume bargaining in good faith with proposals that recognize our members’ contributions to the ongoing success of the company. Our members at BuzzFeed deserve better than what the company is offering and how they’ve been treated. We are fighting for what they deserve.”

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BuzzFeed, which earlier this month announced it would reduce editorial jobs by offering voluntary hireouts to one third of editors and reporters covering science, inequality, and politics who have been with the company for at least one year. It employs around 100 people, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize last season.

BuzzFeed’s union has been negotiating with BuzzFeed executives for over two years, since their first collective bargaining arrangement. This is the second negotiation between the union and management regarding cuts. Management made drastic cuts during the pandemic.

“The BuzzFeed News Union has fought management’s proposed newsroom cuts before, and we won’t roll over this time,”BuzzFeed News’ political reporter Addy Baird made the following statement. “Our union stands together to fight for a strong contract that includes strong buyouts, but let me be clear: The decision to gut our newsroom is an absolutely shameful one, and Jonah Peretti should be deeply embarrassed.”

People with knowledge of the vote told that BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti didn’t show up to the meeting with the union on Tuesday. Peretti doesn’t legally need to appear at union negotiations, as negotiations are typically handled by company representatives. Peretti was asked by the union to attend the negotiations earlier this week, as he had been refusing to answer their questions since the announcement about job cuts earlier in the month.

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Staff were also confused when Peretti claimed to have left an all-hands meeting right before it was open for questions following the announcement.

Jon Schleuss, NewsGuild CWA president, had previously said that. “Is Jonah Peretti going to show up on Tuesday, not be a coward, and speak directly with his workers? One of the most embarrassing things you can do to yourself in front of journalists is to run away and hide. He knows you have to answer their questions.”

The union filed an unfair labor practices claim against the company for what they called “regressive and unlawful bargaining tactics.”

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