BuzzFeed staffers across the country walked off the job this afternoon, the latest escalation in a months-long effort to push CEO Jonah Peretti to recognize his newsroom employees’ union, which is represented by the NewsGuild.
Staffers walked out at company bureaus in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Union members toting signs were joined by Scabby, the pro-union inflatable icon:
In a tweet posted by the BuzzFeed Union account, members said that over the past four months, management has “delayed, stood us up, refused to work toward compromises on key issues, and routinely taken positions that would severely undercut our union’s ability to protect workers.”
“As someone who’s worked at BuzzFeed for more than six years, I’m deeply invested in the company and its future—which is exactly why I’m so invested in the newsroom unionizing,” BuzzFeed News Deputy Culture Editor Rachel Sanders said in a statement by the union. “I wish BuzzFeed management could see this as an opportunity to show that they respect and value their employees, rather than reacting out of fear, and I hope they come back to the table so we can have a real conversation.”
Peretti, whose history of peddling anti-union bullshit predates—but has certainly not abated—during the organizing effort, urged members of the unit to accept an offer from management in a note about the walkout to staff.
In the message, Peretti said management had presented a voluntary recognition offer to the union several weeks ago. But, Peretti added, “News staff have refused to accept [the offer], and instead are seeking t0 impose additional demands that threaten our progress around voluntary recognition.”
In its statement, the BuzzFeed Union noted Peretti had indeed presented a recognition agreement, but called it an “an unacceptable take-it-or-leave-it deal” meant to undercut their ongoing negotiations.
“We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine us,” the union wrote on Twitter.