The employee union of Buzfeed News has staged a walkout today to show employee dissatisfaction with the company’s pay scale and management policies. Buzzfeed is perhaps best known in political circles as the outlet the first covered the wholly debunked Steele Dossier, which falsely claimed that 45th President Donald Trump traveled to Russia and paid women to urinate on him in a bed once shared by 44th President Barack Obama and his wife.
According to a digital flyer distributed by Buzzfeed employees via social media, the company’s union members have staged a walk out today. “There is no BuzzFeed News without us,” the union members warned, “and we’re walking out today to remind management of that fact.”
Grievances listed by the union include an apparent dispute over pay, alleged lack of creative control given to Buzzfeed employees, and management’s expectation for writers to produce content that generates traffic.
In its first category of grievances, the union complained that Buzzfeed has only offered a 1% guaranteed annual raise, and “they have not budged on their proposed $50,000 salary floor.” The union complained, “That’s not enough to live in the major cities like New York and San Francisco where BuzzFeed has newsrooms,” then warned that $50,000 per year as an entry level, starting salary “is not enough to attract truly diverse talent.”
In my seven years at BuzzFeed News, I’ve never faced an “or-else” traffic quota. We’re walking off today, in part, to make sure our journalists never do. pic.twitter.com/BWavn6fndG
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) December 2, 2021
Buzzfeed’s union also claims that the company strictly regulates “creative work” done outside of an employee’s official work tasks, “including publishing a freelance article that falls outside your newsroom beat, writing a personal Medium post about your mental health, posting outfits on Instagram, or even doing a makeup tutorial on TikTok.”
The employees also suggest that it is wrong for Buzzfeed to penalize employees if their content does not perform adequately. “Pageviews and clicks are not something an individual employee can control,” the union asserted.
Last year, Buzzfeed famously closed its offices in the United Kingdom and Australia due to economic constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying government lockdowns.