July 17, 2019

BuzzFeed News Is Part of a Union Wave at Digital Media Outlets

The ranks have swelled recently at two unions representing writers and editors: the News Guild, which represents the staff at The New York Times, among other media organizations, and the Writers Guild of America East, perhaps best known for its work with television and film writers. Organizers at the two unions estimated that the digital wave has brought them 2,000 new members.

The trend was in evidence on Friday when workers at Vox Media, whose holdings include SB Nation, Eater, The Verge and the namesake news site, ratified a new contract after more than a year of bargaining. In an email to the staff, the chief executive, Jim Bankoff, announced that the company would extend certain features of the union contract — such as a 16-week leave for new parents and a new emphasis on diversity — to all employees.

Amy Plitt, the Curbed NY editor and a member of the Vox bargaining committee, said that after the agreement became public, she noticed posts on Twitter saying Vox Media looked like an attractive place to work.

“I think it will make it easier for companies to bring in talented voices, who ultimately make these brands better,” she added.

Things are more contentious at BuzzFeed. Of the site’s roughly 1,250 employees, it is the 200 or so journalists at BuzzFeed News, the division led by the editor Ben Smith, who are taking part in the union drive. Among the sticking points between them and company leaders is how to define which employees would be members of the union.

During a meeting with staff in 2015, BuzzFeed’s chief executive, Jonah Peretti, expressed his opposition to a union at the company he co-founded.

“I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed,” Mr. Peretti said. He argued that it would put workers and managers at odds and lead to rigid job definitions that would make the company less flexible than Google or Facebook, neither of which has a union.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/business/media/buzzfeed-news-union-walkout.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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