BuzzFeed News employees plan to unionize after layoffs

BuzzFeed News employees announced Tuesday they are unionizing after the news outlet laid off about 15 percent of its workforce last month. 

“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,” the employees said in a statement. 

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“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 faced intense criticism last month after it was forced to capitulate into paying dismissed employees for accrued time off, but the employees said they had been meeting for years and talks about unionizing had started before the cutbacks. They listed a series of demands from BuzzFeed to revise staff contracts in an effort to improve workplace conditions.

“We demand an agreement that requires due process for termination, a diverse newsroom, reasonable severance amid layoffs, a competitive 401(k), rights to our creative works, and affordable health insurance. We believe it’s urgent that our management address unfair pay disparities,” they said, adding that contractors who are paid through a third party deserve the same treatment as well. 

“Unionizing is right for BuzzFeed News. Everything we are demanding is already in line with BuzzFeed’s values. We want to remain spry and competitive, but we reject the argument that we must choose between freelancing in a hellscape gig economy for vampirical platforms or submitting to the whims of a corporation that botches basic HR tasks.” 

Several other media outlets including The Huffington Post and Gannett Inc.’s newspapers have had to lay off workers as well. Employees at Mashable, Vice Media and Gizmodo Media Group have unionized in recent years, according to Bloomberg News.

The BuzzFeed News employees demanded their company “immediately” recognize their union so they could “swiftly reach a mutually satisfying contract…”