The Slatest

BuzzFeed News Employees Agree to Unionize Weeks After Sweeping Layoffs

 Members of the BuzzFeed News team work at their desks at BuzzFeed headquarters, December 11, 2018 in New York City.
Members of the BuzzFeed News team work at their desks at BuzzFeed headquarters, December 11, 2018 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Two weeks after BuzzFeed hollowed out its newsroom laying off 220 employees or 15 percent of its workforce in the process of eliminating its entire national desk and national security team, among others, those that survived the bloodletting announced Tuesday they has agreed to unionize. “It’s not all fun and memes,” the union organizing committee said in a statement Tuesday. “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 latest round of layoffs at the internet media sensation came after the company posted 15 percent growth in revenue in 2018, which coupled with the jarring manner in which CEO Jonah Peretti went about the layoffs, appeared to motivate remaining employees to complete the unionization drive. “An overwhelming majority of workers were in favor of the decision to join NewsGuild, the labor union that’s part of the Communications Workers of America, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing details of the decision,” Bloomberg reports. In response to the union plans, BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith said in a statement “We look forward to meeting with the organizers to discuss a way toward voluntarily recognizing their union.”

“This workforce is a juggernaut. We’ve helped transform media by syncing up with social platforms and speaking the language of the internet, while proving that rigorous accountability journalism can happen online. The haters who disregard BuzzFeed News as trivial—from politicians to media dinosaurs—do so at their own peril,” the union statement reads. “We demand that BuzzFeed News recognizes our union immediately so that we can swiftly reach a mutually satisfying contract that lets us focus on the important work of reporting on Cardi B memes and breaking the biggest stories in the country.”