‘It’s not all fun and memes.’ Journalists of BuzzFeed are forming a NewsGuild unit.

Feb. 13, 2019 – Journalists at BuzzFeed News have signed on to a union organizing efforts and are seeking voluntary recognition from Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, they announced yesterday. The editorial staff will be affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York CWA Local 31003, a chapter of The NewsGuild-CWA.

More than 90 percent of approximately 125 eligible editorial employees signaled support for the union effort.

Following several tumultuous weeks in the newsroom, in which nearly 15 percent of BuzzFeed’s staff was laid off company-wide, newsroom employees announced that their months long organizing drive had received broad support from all departments and job titles, and they were ready to present management with their request for voluntary recognition.

“This is a turbulent time in our industry, and we’ve seen that our company and our management can only do so much to protect us from the broader economic forces shrinking the media landscape,” Investigative Reporter Albert Samahar said in a press statement. “I love working at BuzzFeed News, I care deeply about the future of this place, and I believe a union will bring stability to our workforce, grant us a crucial voice in company decisions, and make BuzzFeed stronger in the long run. My colleagues overwhelmingly support this effort, and I’m proud to stand with them.”

Senior Technology Reporter Davey Alba said, “We want to work swiftly with management to reach a contract that guarantees protections for everyone who works here and articulates specific goals that we think reflect our newsroom’s mission and values — including addressing pay disparities, better management of ‘pivots,’ and retaining and promoting diverse talent.

“We believe unionizing is right for the company, and we look forward to BuzzFeed management recognizing our unit without delay.”

In a mission statement employees wrote, “BuzzFeed News is a critical player in the American news landscape thanks to our tireless staff. We break some of the biggest stories in news, politics, tech, science, and entertainment; publish incisive analysis of our culture; and diagnose what makes the internet tick.

“But it’s not all fun and memes. Our staff has been organizing for several months, and we have legitimate grievances about unfair pay disparities, mismanaged pivots and layoffs, weak benefits, skyrocketing health insurance costs, diversity, and more.

“So we’re forming a union of US news employees with the NewsGuild of New York, which represents other vanguard reporting outlets, including the New York Times, Reuters, the Daily Beast, and Los Angeles Times.” BuzzFeed Canada‘s 10 workers also petitioned for union recognition as part of the Canadian Media Guild local, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA.

The announcement is part of a wave of NewsGuild organizing drives over the last few years at both print-and-digital publications and digital-only outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Virginian-Pilot, and ZiffDavis, which includes Mashable, PC Magazine, Geek.com and AskMen.

On Monday, employees of the Hartford Courant announced they are organizing a union, and staffers of New York Magazine won voluntary recognition of their union earlier this month.

For more info, visit BuzzFeed News Union’s website.


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