Faced with Furloughs and Layoffs, BuzzFeed News Union Saves Jobs, Costs and Secures Work-Sharing Nationwide
For Immediate Release: May 29, 2020
Contact: Josh Austin, email@example.com | (484) 269-0158
Faced with Furloughs and Layoffs,
BuzzFeed News Union Saves Jobs, Costs and
Secures Work-Sharing Nationwide
Guild members at BuzzFeed News successfully fought for and ratified an agreement that guarantees job security
through the end of the year and saves a significant number of jobs
New York — On Friday, May 29, NewsGuild of New York members at BuzzFeed News overwhelmingly ratified an interim agreement between the company and the Guild that saves jobs and lowers operating costs by adopting work-sharing programs for the remainder of 2020.
Inspired by NewsGuild members at The Los Angeles Times — who achieved an unprecedented workshare agreement in their newsroom — BuzzFeed News Guild members organized to have the company adopt their plan as a way to reduce proposed job cuts. The union’s primary objective is to keep journalists working during a time when the news and information they provide is critical to public health and safety.
Members demanded and successfully negotiated increased job security through the end of the year, based largely on the savings the company will gain through adoption of the union plan. BuzzFeed management agreed not to seek any further union workforce reductions through the end of 2020. Any additional discussion of projected losses must be negotiated with the New York Guild.
"After going through layoffs a little more than a year ago, our newsroom knew how devastating another round of job cuts would be, especially during such dire times,” said Eric Morrow, News Curation Editor. “Our members overwhelmingly wanted to pursue a solution that avoided job losses and stood united when it came time to show how important this was to all of us. I'm so proud of what we've accomplished."
“We worked hard to show BuzzFeed management that, while reducing costs, we can still protect the core of what makes BuzzFeed News an outlet that punches far above our headcount: the people who do the work,” said Rachel Sanders, BuzzFeed News Deputy Culture Editor and Unit Chair. “We know that even working reduced hours, our members won’t stop producing the fearless reporting and brilliant writing they do now. I’m so proud of the time, effort, and sacrifice everyone in our union has willingly put in to develop our work-sharing plan, to show management the plan was viable, and to make that plan a reality.”
As part of the agreement, the company will immediately submit applications for work-sharing plans in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., to begin in June so that employees can take advantage of federal CARES Act unemployment benefits available through July. Under the plan, members who participate will work on a 20 percent reduced work schedule and will be able to submit claims for partial unemployment benefits to cover their reduced hours. This lowers costs for BuzzFeed while at the same time lessens the impact of cuts on Guild members. A small number of members who are willing to accept a furlough through Aug. 14, 2020, will receive health benefits through the summer and full payout of unused PTO and comp time.
“This deal proves newsrooms have alternatives to widespread layoffs, and even in a crisis, they can retain talent and boost company morale by adopting creative solutions from their own employees,” said Dominic Holden, BuzzFeed News Political Reporter. “It also demonstrates that unionization in newsrooms is more critical than ever: There's no way we could have saved these jobs if company executives weren't required to sit at the bargaining table — even when that table is a video conference call — and negotiate with their staff.”
But Guild members involved in the negotiations were also disappointed that BuzzFeed management refused to offer enhanced severance to employees who agreed to furloughs in order to help save their colleagues’ jobs. Several media companies have offered enhancements so as to provide additional stability for employees during this pandemic
“Our members at BuzzFeed News fought passionately for their colleagues,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York. “I’m inspired by their ingenuity and determination in developing a comprehensive plan to save their newsroom from potentially devastating job losses. This agreement, along with the great work done by Guild members at The LA Times, demonstrates that layoffs should be the last option considered, instead of the first, during an economic crisis.”
About the NewsGuild of New York
The NewsGuild of New York, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, is a labor union representing nearly 3,000 media professionals and other employees at New York area news organizations, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Thomson Reuters, The Nation, and The Daily Beast.
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