(Bloomberg) -- BuzzFeed Inc.’s journalists, reeling from a round of layoffs, voted to unionize and plan to inform management as soon as Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.
An overwhelming majority of workers voted in favor of the decision to join NewsGuild, the labor union that’s part of the Communications Workers of America, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t yet public. A spokesman for the union didn’t respond to requests for comment.
BuzzFeed’s move last month to eliminate 15 percent of its headcount gutted several parts of the newsroom, including the national desk and the health-care staff. Following the layoffs, employees took to Twitter and Medium to criticize the company for failing to pay all dismissed workers for accrued time off. Eventually BuzzFeed management relented.
The cutbacks were part of a wave of media layoffs along with Verizon Communications Inc.’s HuffPost division and Gannett Inc.’s newspapers, as publishers continue to struggle to find profitable business models.
The tumult has led journalists at several outlets to opt for collective bargaining. Employees at Mashable, Vice Media and Gizmodo Media Group have all voted to join unions in the last couple of years, and while that hasn’t prevented layoffs, it has in some cases cushioned the blow. Unionized journalists at HuffPost, for example, were reportedly entitled to at least two months of severance pay because of their collective bargaining agreement.
As other digital newsrooms voted to unionize, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti told employees that they didn’t need a union or the often adversarial relationship with management that follows. “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed,” he told employees in 2015.
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