MEDIA

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's Spat With BuzzFeed Execs Over Union Snub Heats Up

The mayor is siding with BuzzFeed News staffers after the company's executives bailed on a negotiation meeting.

The unlikely feud between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and BuzzFeed executives is heating up.

The mayor and the online news site’s fray stems from the failure of BuzzFeed’s executives to show up at a meeting Wednesday on recognizing their employees’ union.

BuzzFeed News’ union tweeted that the executives had dropped out of the meeting shortly before it was set to begin. 

“Five minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start, they told us they weren’t going to show up,” the group tweeted.

De Blasio on Thursday reminded BuzzFeed’s executives that New York City was a “union town.” The news site has offices in both New York City and Los Angeles.

“You didn’t just snub [BuzzFeed News’ union] yesterday, you insulted all working New Yorkers,” the mayor tweeted at the news site

BuzzFeed’s management responded to de Blasio’s jab later Thursday, calling him a “deeply unpopular mayor” and questioning whether his concern was genuine.

“This process is not going to benefit from the involvement of a deeply unpopular mayor who has expressed an open disdain for journalists during his time in office,” the company said in a statement to the Daily Beast.

De Blasio tweeted back a quip Thursday evening, dogging the company for responding to his tweets before reaching a deal with BuzzFeed’s union.

“Wow. [BuzzFeed] execs respond a lot faster to a public call-out than they do demands for fairness from their own workers,” he wrote.

BuzzFeed’s U.S. employees announced their intention to unionize the newsroom in February, shortly after the company cut 15% of its workforce, or an estimated 250 jobs, amid a massive wave of layoffs in the media industry earlier this year.

BuzzFeed News staffers organized their union under the NewsGuild of New York. 

After BuzzFeed’s management team failed to show up at the meeting Wednesday, the union published a statement saying that the company was “choosing a path of avoidance and delays.”

“We’ve repeatedly asked [BuzzFeed founder and CEO] Jonah Peretti and [editor-in-chief] Ben Smith to join us in these negotiations and take an interest in what their employees are fighting for,” the union said. “Thus far, they have declined to attend any negotiating meetings.”

In a tweet on Thursday night, Smith maintained that BuzzFeed’s management was still interested in negotiating with the union members.

“Negotiations are often complicated, but BuzzFeed News remains committed to them and continues to look forward to voluntarily recognizing the union,” he said.

In 2015, when BuzzFeed staffers were mulling the idea of unionizing, Peretti told the staff that he didn’t think a union would be “great” for the company.

“I think that actually wouldn’t be very good for employees at BuzzFeed — particularly people who are writers and reporters,” Peretti told staffers during a company meeting at the time. “The [compensation] for writers and reporters are much less favorable than [compensation] for startup companies and tech companies.”

As de Blasio and BuzzFeed’s management sparred online, New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection tweeted Thursday in support of the news site’s efforts to unionize.

“In NYC, we stand up for workers. And we won’t back down,” the department said in a tweet.

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