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‘Not All Fun and Memes’: BuzzFeed News Employees Plan to Form a Union

Category: Business,Finance

If the company recognizes the union, a certification with the NewsGuild would follow, along with a negotiation of who would be covered under any contract.

If BuzzFeed doesn’t recognize the union, the organizers said they would hold a union election with an official from the National Labor Relations Board present to facilitate a secret ballot.

“I am confident in management,” Ms. Alba said. “I think that they will voluntarily recognize it.”

Workers at BuzzFeed News are the latest digital media employees to pursue a union effort. So far this year, Vice Media, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East, has expanded the number of employees counted as union members, and employees at Refinery29 organized a union, also under the Writers Guild banner.

Last year, employees at The New Yorker and New York magazine formed unions with the NewsGuild of New York. In both cases, management voluntarily recognized the organizing efforts.

According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, 30 digital news sites and newspapers have recognized unions since 2015. “In total, the number of unionized workers in internet publishing has risen 20-fold since 2010,” the report said.

Mr. Peretti is on the record opposing the idea. In 2015, he said, “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed.”

In an interview with The New York Times in November, Mr. Peretti floated a solution to the volatile economic landscape now affecting digital media companies: a series of mergers among the top internet publishers, including Vice, Vox Media, Group Nine Media and Refinery29. Mr. Peretti reasoned that, if BuzzFeed and those companies were to unite, they would put themselves in a better position to negotiate favorable terms with powerful tech platforms like Facebook.

“He clearly understands the value of collective bargaining,” Mr. Holden said. “And we agree with him that collective action is critical to securing an equitable agreement.”


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