BuzzFeed Union Votes to Authorize Newsroom Strike Amid Escalating Tensions

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The BuzzFeed Union on Tuesday voted in favor of authorizing a newsroom strike amid escalating tensions with management of the digital media company.

More than 90% of The NewsGuild of New York voted to approve a strike if BuzzFeed management continues “bargaining in bad faith,” the group said in a release.

“BuzzFeed News Union members are ready to do whatever it takes to ensure their Pulitzer-prize winning newsroom continues to operate with integrity and to win a contract that values the essential work they do,” Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York, said in a statement. “Their nearly 5,000 Guild colleagues stand with them. It’s time for BuzzFeed management to resume bargaining in good faith with proposals that recognize our members’ contributions to the ongoing success of the company. Our members at BuzzFeed deserve better than what the company is offering and how they’ve been treated. We are fighting for what they deserve.”

The vote for a strike comes as BuzzFeed earlier this month said it would slash editorial jobs by offering voluntary buyouts to one-third of reporters and editors covering investigations, inequality, politics or science and have worked for the company for more than a year. The newsroom staffs about 100 people and won a Pulitzer Prize last year.

The union has been bargaining with BuzzFeed leaders for more than two years after their first collective bargaining agreement. This is the second time the union has negotiated with management over cuts. The last time cuts were made was during the pandemic when management said drastic layoffs were necessary.

“The BuzzFeed News Union has fought management’s proposed newsroom cuts before, and we won’t roll over this time,” Addy Baird, political reporter at BuzzFeed News, said in a statement. “Our union stands together to fight for a strong contract that includes strong buyouts, but let me be clear: The decision to gut our newsroom is an absolutely shameful one, and Jonah Peretti should be deeply embarrassed.”

People with knowledge of the vote told TheWrap that BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti didn’t show up to the meeting with the union on Tuesday. Peretti doesn’t legally need to appear at union negotiations, as negotiations are typically handled by company representatives. However, the union earlier this week called on Peretti to attend as he has been avoiding addressing their questions since the announcement of job cuts came earlier this month.

Staffers were also left without answers when they said Peretti left an all-hands meeting just before it was opened up for questions after the announcement.

NewsGuild-CWA president Jon Schleuss previously said to TheWrap, “Is Jonah Peretti going to show up on Tuesday, not be a coward, and speak directly with his workers? One of the most embarrassing things you can do to yourself in front of journalists is to run away and hide. He knows you have to answer their questions.”

The union has filed an unfair labor practice claim against the company over what they refer to as regressive and illegal bargaining tactics.