The Wall Street Journal: Employees at BuzzFeed News vote to unionize

Employees at BuzzFeed News have voted to unionize, weeks after executives at the digital-media company announced substantial layoffs to steer the startup to profitability.

In a letter explaining their decision to unionize, which was delivered to BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith Tuesday evening, employees said pay disparities, lack of benefits and “mismanaged pivots and layoffs” were among the grievances that drove the union effort. The union said it would represent more than 120 people in all.

Employees at BuzzFeed News are also seeking to secure paid time off, due process for termination and a more diverse newsroom, according to the letter. The grievances predate recent cuts to the newsroom that were part of a 15% workforce reduction at the company, which also includes an entertainment division and other media brands.

“This organizing effort was underway well before the recent layoffs,” the letter read. “We’ve been meeting for years, and after BuzzFeed laid off video staffers and our beloved podcast team last fall, our efforts ramped up — precisely because we think our terms of employment, such as severance,  should be set in advance, not hastily arranged in a dramatic spectacle.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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