On April 12, members of the BuzzFeed News Union across every US bureau (New York, DC, SF, and LA) had cake to celebrate our two-month anniversary of going public (and of still not being recognized by our company)! We ate cake, and passed out this info to the newsroom about where our unionization effort is currently at:
What is the union? We are you! You are us! We joined together to fight for a contract that ensures better, more equitable workplace conditions. After months of identifying our grievances and goals, more than 90% of newsroom staffers from all US bureaus signed union cards. The NewsGuild of NY is our representative, but this process is 💯 led by you and your colleagues.
What do we want? We want an inclusive contract that covers all nonmanagerial editorial staff. This is a media industry standard called an “editorial unit.” Within the unit, we’ll also argue that certain titles should be included. But if our union is only made up of specific titles (which is what the company is arguing for) instead of recognized as a whole, management can exclude people from the union by changing titles or adding new ones over time. We want people to be able to change jobs, collaborate, and experiment without jeopardizing their union protection.
It’s been two months. What’s the holdup?
Management has refused to have a substantive discussion about recognizing an editorial unit.
Management has delayed the process unnecessarily, including refusing to provide responses to our emailed requests for information.
Management has argued that shows like AM to DM should not be included.
Management does not want to include foreign correspondents.
Management wants to exclude employees it calls managers based on “tracks” in HR’s internal leveling documents, rather than on the basis of their actual job responsibilities.
Management refused to show up to the last meeting and falsely claimed we had changed the terms.
4. Why is it a problem that management is challenging the shows? The show staff produce news, analysis, and reporting just like the rest of the newsroom. They’re integrated with staff on every level — from collaborating on story ideas to reporting those stories on the air. They're newsroom employees. The only difference is they are paid by a third party and do not receive the same benefits. And after repeated promises that employees on long-term contracts will be made staff, they're still waiting.
5. What’s happening now? After abruptly canceling our last session, management has agreed to meet with us Monday at 2 p.m. We’re ready to make progress, and we hope they are too.
6. Who has the power to recognize us? Jonah has delegated decision-making to Ben. And Ben so far hasn’t participated in meetings — those are being handled by HR representatives and an outside lawyer named Darrell Gay from Arent Fox, who was hired by the company and has a long history of working against unions. But ultimately, this decision is Ben’s to make, and he has the power to recognize our union now. We need him in the room for this to work.
7. Why is this so important? The sooner we’re recognized, the sooner we can get to working on a contract that improves our working conditions — one that guarantees due process during terminations, a diverse newsroom, reasonable severance during layoffs, and a means to address unfair pay differences.