On the afternoon of June 17, BuzzFeed journalists in New York and three other cities stopped work to protest the company’s slow response to employees’ votes to unionize. The vote in February came after the company laid off dozens of employees. Each side accuses the other of stalling the process.
BuzzFeed employees say the dispute is over eligibility to join the bargaining unit. The company employs more than 200 journalists throughout the United States but has offered to allow just 77 of them to join. Employees say that BuzzFeed is trying to define job titles that are permitted to join the union so the company can create new job titles in the future that are not eligible. They also say that the company claims some employees are management despite not supervising any workers. BuzzFeed says their attorneys are in daily negotiations and that they have a strong proposal for moving ahead with the process.
According to BuzzFeed employees, the four months that have elapsed since they voted to unionize is the longest period of time a digital media company has gone without recognizing employee unionization. If employees are required to go through the National Labor Relations Board to become eligible, there could be more delays. BuzzFeed employees are the latest in a wave of digital media employees to unionize.
As this case demonstrates, employees and employers are often at odds when it comes to union issues. Employees who are attempting to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement or who have other issues related to union representation may want to consult an attorney to discuss their rights and how they should proceed.