TORONTO Feb. 13, 2019 – Canadian staff at digital media company BuzzFeed filed for union certification yesterday as part of Canadian Media Guild, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA.
The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), media union CWA Canada’s biggest local, filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Canada Industrial Relations Board after a majority of the 10 BuzzFeed staff in Toronto signed union cards.
The filing came in concert with similar actions by BuzzFeed workers in the United States and Germany. It is part of a wave of recent unionization in the media industry in the U.S. and Canada. VICE Canada staff joined CMG and CWA Canada in 2016 and secured their first contract in 2017.
In a mission statement, BuzzFeed Canada staff said they want to secure their working conditions and improve transparency through collective bargaining: “The ongoing volatility of the industry makes it necessary for workers to have a voice.”
“Our move to unionize is not born from a lack of trust in BuzzFeed’s leadership, but rather as a move to build a sustainable relationship that’s mutually beneficial,” it states. “We believe that collective bargaining is the best means to achieve that goal.”
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon, a veteran journalist, said the union drive is about protecting quality jobs and journalism – and about fairness.
“We all want BuzzFeed to succeed; that’s good for everyone. We think the best way to make that happen is by treating workers as respected professionals and giving them a real voice in the workplace with the power to negotiate wages and working conditions.”
CMG President Kamala Rao noted that BuzzFeed workers have already mobilized and are poised to build on those efforts.
“Workers at BuzzFeed have demonstrated the impact of joining together publicly to defend each other, including to protect employees’ deferred earnings, like paid time off. A negotiated collective agreement will further codify such rights,” Rao said. “We are delighted to welcome fellow media workers from BuzzFeed in Canada into the Canadian Media Guild.”
CWA Canada is the country’s only all-media union, representing media workers coast to coast, including over 5,000 members of the Canadian Media Guild at the CBC, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, VICE Canada, and other media outlets. It is an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA.