Following the announcement Monday from CEO Jonah Peretti that BuzzFeed plans to drastically shrink its news division and offer voluntary buyouts to employees, the BuzzFeed News Union, represented by The NewsGuild of New York, released the following statement:
“Once again, it’s clear BuzzFeed management is still learning a fundamental truth about their newsroom: now that we have our union, the era of them making unilateral decisions that affect our work and our lives is over. Yesterday, we were told that management aims to gut our newsroom through voluntary buyouts in our Investigations, Politics, Inequality, and Science desks.
“Today, we’re making it clear to management: they simply aren’t allowed to do that without first reaching a full deal on a union contract. And they’re definitely not allowed to gut our newsroom through illegal union-busting tactics. We will be filing an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board and urge management to come to the table ready to reach a full and fair union contract.
“Announcing a dramatic reduction to our newsrooms after two years of bargaining and a year since economics were put on the table is not only insulting, it's regressive bargaining. Further, framing these reductions as a done deal is an intimidation tactic that undermines the collective bargaining process. Management has even gone as far as soliciting union members for backdoor conversations around the buyouts. We won’t stand for it. This news from management is a proposal, not a mandate — and like every union proposal, anything we accept will be a part of a strong union contract that reflects the worth of our amazing colleagues.
“The bottom line is this: the news we deliver, including Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalism, is vital to the readers we serve; this gutting of critical departments is a loss to the communities in which we live and work. There is no doubt this decision is devastating for our newsroom. But this isn’t the first time we’re fighting management on a bad proposal. At the height of the pandemic, management told us it wasn’t possible to preserve jobs and layoffs were necessary. But through organizing and strong push-back at the table, we won workshare for our colleagues, a program which saved jobs while meeting the financial needs of the company during lockdown. We’re not settling for anything less this time around. We’ll be back at the table next Tuesday, March 29, to address this proposal in the context of our complete CBA agreement. This is why we unionized, and we won’t back down now.”
Jon Schleuss, president of The NewsGuild-CWA, said: “BuzzFeed's profits continue to soar and yet, Guild members are fighting this same type of vulture capital and poor corporate governance all across the continent. There is only one long-term strategy and that's to invest in journalism. And investing in journalism involves workers having a voice in decisions that affect their life and work. Our democracy quite literally depends on it.”
Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York, said: “This decision by BuzzFeed undermines the dedication of hard working journalists and devalues the communities and readers they serve — all in pursuit of profit. Our members know that real worth is built through a strong contract that recognizes the value of journalism and the workers who produce it, creating a sustainable future for all.”
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