Following substantial layoffs and anti-union sermonizing from the CEO, the newsroom staff at Buzzfeed’s UK office has voted overwhelmingly against unionizing with the National Union of Journalists.
Buzzfeed’s Mark Di Stefano reports that the vote was 22-4 against unionizing. A spokesman for the union told him that the union campaign, which began in 2016, was sapped by a round of layoffs, and noted that “BuzzFeed has poured considerable resources into challenging our bid for recognition.” Among those resources were ample legal wrangling, as well as personal appeals from CEO Jonah Peretti, who has told his staff consistently that a unions are just not right for Buzzfeed. (Molly Osberg reported last year that in a New York meeting with staff, “Peretti said he believed he and other senior management could more effectively ‘advocate’ for employees than a ‘third party.’”)
In fact, since the online media unionization wave began in 2015, Peretti has been selling this very same line, telling his employees then that ““I think that [unionizing] actually wouldn’t be very good for employees at BuzzFeed — particularly people who are writers and reporters, because the [compensation] for writers and reporters are much less favorable than [compensation] for startup companies and tech companies.”
If you are a journalist and you believe that your boss, who has a structural interest in minimizing labor costs, is a better representative of your interests than you and your colleagues are, and that you, an online reporter, will—only if you take no actions whatsoever to assert your collective power—soon be paid exactly what Google employees are paid, then you may be a good fit for a job at Buzzfeed UK. Unfortunately no jobs are currently available due to recent layoffs. But keep checking back.
DISCLOSURE: Jonah Peretti, a very wealthy man, has a sister, Chelsea Peretti, who is also wealthy, in no small part because she is well-compensated as a successful television industry personality who is a member of the Writers Guild of America—the same union to which Gizmodo Media Group belongs, as well as Vice, HuffPost, Salon, Slate, The Intercept, The Dodo, Onion Inc., ThinkProgress, Thrillist, Fast Company, Vox Media, and others, though not Buzzfeed US, though of course they could if only they filled out this contact form.