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BuzzFeed Journalists Vote to Unionize in Wake of Layoffs (bloomberg.com)
142 points by koolba 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments



BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti told employees in 2015 that "when you look at companies that have unionized, the relationship [between managers and employees] is much more adversarial."

I suppose the remaining employees have taken the layoffs as a sign that management IS their adversary.


> I suppose the remaining employees have taken the layoffs as a sign that management IS their adversary.

Nah, basic economics says that now that the supply of employees at Buzzfeed has been reduced, the remaining employees have more leverage to negotiate with management as rugged individualists. /s


I don’t suppose they’ll care to bail the company out with their own finances if the company were to teeter on bankruptcy for the sake of collectivism...


They should have taken the layoffs as a sign their company produces bad content and to get a real job.


These are employees of buzzfeed news, not buzzfeed, which produces pretty high quality content.


Even that division is hit and miss. But why would they not disambiguate the two except to keep the clickbait farm going?


Unions should regard businesses as their customers, not their enemies. The relationship should not be regarded as zero-sum, i.e. that the union can only win if the business loses, and vice versa.


It's hard to keep looking at their employer as something other than their adversary when he just fires dozens of your fellow colleagues.


The union pitch to businesses should be "you'll get more cost-effective results if you hire our union guys." The same pitch as any other business selling something to that business.

Businesses don't treat their customers as enemies, and their transactions with them as zero-sum. At least, successful businesses don't. They know that win-win is the way to success.

Unions, however, always seem to take the win-lose tack, which is why businesses don't want to deal with them.


> The union pitch to businesses should be "you'll get more cost-effective results if you hire our union guys."

This approach makes no sense.

The role of a union is to defend the interests of their members in particular and workers in general. This means that the job of an union also includes opposing management decisions that go against the best interests of the company's workers.

An union only has any semblance of value if it oposes management practices that hurt workers, such as laying off a significant portion of a company's staff when the company is not in financial risk.

Your pitch idea is utterly absurd because you can't convince a manager that eliminating 15% of the company's salary costs is a bad idea even if the alternative is keeping around workers that might not be needed in the immediate future.

The only way to avoid these whimsical lay-offs is if an union opposes these initiatives in a way that the corporation has more to lose if he pushes them ahead.


> The role of a union is to defend the interests of their members in particular and workers in general.

Sure, but going about it by antagonizing their customers is not productive.

Implicit in your argument is the idea that workers have nothing to offer in exchange. I don't believe that's true. Businesses are always offering more money and perqs to get better workers. Unions can endear themselves to business by offering things in exchange for what they want, and by being partners in the success of the business.

Being enemies is a doomed endeavor, and likely why unions have declined over the years, unless they got special government rules to keep them in place.


I think it's the other way around.

Businesses see unions as enemies and transactions zero-sum. They view paying better wages and improving working conditions or providing actual benefits as a loss, rather than creating a "win" for the people who comprise the company.

Why is this? Probably because the investor class "matters" more than the employee class, through some odd inversion where the people who actually add value and make the company work are subject to those who don't.

Or, we could just cut the verbosity and call it like it is: Business don't want to deal with unions because of unchecked greed.


> Businesses see unions as enemies

Only because unions frame it that way. I used to work in a union shop, and the union members simply poured out their hate for the business on a daily basis. Who would want to do business with people that hate you?

> and transactions zero-sum.

Businesses that screw their customers don't last long.


This.

Canada Post went on strike early winter as a pressure tactic because it knew the company would suffer going into the holiday season. Ultimately, that only screwed over the customers.


Single piece of anecdata for you. I know the owner of a construction company. I asked him about the 3 unions he has in his company, and his answer was that he really liked the significantly better tradesmen that the union makes available to him. He’s fairly conservative, and I’m not sure he likes unions in general, but he’s found them to be a net benefit to his company, this is after having tried staffing with and with unions.


Do people read BuzzFeed because it's something to talk about during breaks at work? Other than clickbait, does the site provide any kind of meaningful content? Does BuzzFeed operate on a 'vision' or 'goal-driven journalism' ?! I never saw the site for more than a junkyard selling bullcrap to make money.



Makes me wonder if they've had difficulties selling their work as credible to the general public, considering what the BuzzFeed name entails.


I absolutely discounted and avoided BuzzFeedNews work for the longest time, until I accidentally read one of their investigative pieces [1] and was blown away. I almost even think it vindicates the relentless stream of garbage from their main site, if it allows them to fund such stellar journalism.

  [1] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/sheerafrenkel/fake-news-spreads-trump-around-the-world


Yeah I think their news and investigative journalism are top notch https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rosalindadams/intake


The thing is that Buzzfeed cannot be trusted to write about topics like this. They have an explicit and overt anti-Trump bias and this article is suspect because of that. Really, any mainstream news organization using the term "fake news" and suggesting it impacted the 2016 election cannot be trusted.

It was Buzzfeed News that released the unsubstantiated Steele Dossier and more recently unsubstantiated and refuted claims against Michael Choen.

They are not journalists, they are activists.


Calling the Steele Dossier unsubstantiated is just objectively wrong considering we've seen many claims within it bear fruit over time. There's a reason why many agencies take it very seriously.

What exactly is your bias here?


It's not objectively wrong, even the author himself says only 70-90% of it is accurate and opinions go downhill from there. You can see for yourself:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier#V...


Now you're intentionally moving the goalposts. The author says it's only 70-90% accurate because you cannot ever expect an intelligence dossier to not be potentially contaminated by other agents or sources looking to intentionally provide false or conflicting information.

That does not render the dossier unsubstantiated as you claimed because you have to evaluate the merit of each claim and use it as an avenue for further investigation. Which is exactly what the Wikipedia article you linked says: in that many claims have proven to be true over time despite some disinformation.

So can you tell me again what exactly makes it unsubstantiated?


Actually it's you who moved the goal posts. I said it's unsubstantiated, provided a link with examples and now you want to debate what level of unfounded rumor a report must contain before we can say it's unsubstantiated (>30% is enough imo).


You provided a link that proves the opposite. The fact is that the Steele Dossier has mostly credible claims, many of which has gone under investigation and proven to be truthful. To claim otherwise is to lie and/or deny the reality of the dossier. You can't talk about bias while also denying the facts.


On January 11, 2017, Newsweek published a list of "13 things that don't add up" in the dossier, writing that it was a "strange mix of the amateur and the insightful" and stating that it "contains lots of Kremlin-related gossip that could indeed be, as the author claims, from deep insiders—or equally gleaned" from Russian newspapers and blogs.[177] Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton stated that certain aspects of the dossier were inconsistent with British intelligence's understanding of how the Kremlin works, commenting: "I've seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in [the dossier] which look pretty shaky."


It's funny that you share complaints about Buzzfeed, and yet you decide to quote me a website that does not run fact checkers and frequently shares literal fake news as cited in their own Wikipedia article.

It would be fitting that you would focus in on that paragraph on Wikipedia and not the fact that security professionals clearly took the document seriously enough to use it as a reasonable basis for investigation.


Well at this point I don't think we're going to agree on much. I see all of the literally unsubstantiated claims in the report as cause for suspicion and you don't. I don't think there's anything that's going to convince you of its shaky foundations. Do remember that only buzzfeed reported this though. No other major news source was comfortable with its unsubstantiated nature. Again from wikipedia:

BuzzFeed was harshly criticized by several mainstream media outlets for releasing the dossier without verifying its allegations.[6][7] Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called it "scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump,"[85] while The New York Times noted that the publication sparked a debate centering on the use of unsubstantiated information from anonymous sources.[86] BuzzFeed's executive staff said the materials were newsworthy because they were "in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media" and argued that this justified public release.[87] The dossier's publication by BuzzFeed has always been defended by Jack Shafer, Politico's senior media writer, as well as by Richard Tofel of ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism Review. Shafer defended the public's right to know about the allegations against Trump, and saw a parallel in Judge Ungaro's ruling in the defamation suit filed by Aleksej Gubarev.[8]


This guardian article is relevant:

Blend of stupidity and seriousness does BuzzFeed no favours

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/dec/17/buzzfeed-city-...


It definitely doesn't do it any favors (although many people will debate the quality of the "serious" side of Buzzfeed) but it's too ironic hearing this from The Guardian, a media platform many people avoid due to an overwhelming amount of stupidity it has published.


Also the Guardian article is from December 2017, so the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.

> an overwhelming amount of stupidity [the Guardian] has published

I think on BuzzFeed's part, at least the stupidity is intentional.


Buzzfeed-news is a separate entity if i am not mistaken?


Presumably that’s the entity that hires these journalists and is relevant to this discussion though?


Well there goes any respect I had for Pulitzer.


[flagged]


Do you know what the pulitzer prize even is?

There's some serious bias on display in this thread, HN can do better.


They’ve won Pulitzers. They’ve broken major news stories. The true jurnos there just have a branding nightmare because of the quizzes and lists.

If “not handling criticism on Twitter with tact” is a qualification for a job, I think everyone on twitter would be unemployed.


They were finalists; I don’t think they won. They keep hanging their hat on that nomination though.


They do have at least one Pulitzer prize winner (Mark Schoofs, their head of the investigative reporting division).

He didn't win that Pulitzer in BuzzFeed, but prior to that. It's his Pulitzer that gets associated with BuzzFeed (since he's now heading a team worthy of receiving Pulitzer nominations).


Buzzfeed the site and Buzzfeed journalism are separate departments. The latter is very high quality despite the parent brand's reputation.


Buzzfeed journalism is far from very high quality. It shouldn’t even be called journalism. It’s storytelling. They take huge liberties to leave out information that doesn’t fit their intended narrative.

- Someone with first hand knowledge


Can you list some journalistic outlets that don't do this? Because I can probably find articles by whatever that outlet is that mangle stories to fit business, political, ideological, and other interests. Even when unintentional, stories that depend on complex information are often dumbed-down and result in incomplete, inaccurate narrative. Not to mention the benefit of hindsight, and important sources whose additions or subtractions substantially change the result.


Can you list any journalistic outlets that have a CEO that openly talks about how they only publish information that fits a venn-diagram of "What Do People Care About" and "What is the Brand Message"?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pr-s-6dEEk

Before anyone starts claiming this only happens to BuzzFeed and not BuzzFeed News, there's plenty of interviews of him discussing how there should not be any separation of editorial oversight and marketing as well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE9WWF85Zq4


Journalistic outlets don't typically have CEOs because they never make enough money. They're owned by other companies or rich people, and have other companies that actually generate the revenue, and there's something like a CEO that lords over both that has to balance the making-money part with the journalism part. The only "journalism" that doesn't suffer from bias are ones that never have to worry about money... so basically, school newspapers.


The Federalist


NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, National Public Radio, Los Angeles Times, to name a few.


The Chronicle is the only outlet where I could not find clear examples of the biases I listed, but obviously they'll be biased towards certain reporting of news about academia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times#Criticism_a...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Post#Criticism_...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wall_Street_Journal#Editor...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR#Controversies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Times#Other_contro...

These are just the "big controversies". They all have stories which slant in particular directions as benefits the paper, its owners, writers and editors.


Didn’t they just have their faces rubbed in bad journalism last month when they made some claim about Trump that was so ridiculously untrue that Mueller made a public statement saying it was factually incorrect? [0]

No. I reject the notion that Buzzfeed News is on any level professional. I accept that they work on the stopped-clock principal at best.

[0] reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN1PD01J


Nope. From your own link:

> “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller office, said in the statement.

This is a very carefully-constructed statement. Note how it doesn't actually say BuzzFeed was wrong. It just says specific statements and characterization are "not accurate", but doesn't elaborate on what statements or characterizations, or on how inaccurate they are. This reads like a statement designed to placate Trump without actually refuting much of anything.


> Note how it doesn't actually say BuzzFeed was wrong.

It literally says Buzzfeed's statements were inaccurate.


They were "not accurate". That's a deliberate choice of words. There's a ton of ways to say "BuzzFeed's story is wrong", and they went with the phrasing that could mean "BuzzFeed's story is 99% accurate but there were some minor errors", and then declined to elaborate on what about it was wrong even when BuzzFeed put out a public statement standing by their story and calling on the Mueller investigation to explain.


This comment describes nearly all of the Alexa Top 100 [0]. Turns out people like to waste time, and advertisers like to advertise to people wasting time.

[0] https://www.alexa.com/topsites


None of that has anything to do with the topic of unionization.


At best they operate as a "news laundering" service. They publish unverified or uncorroborated stories, and that provides the other "more reputable" outlets the ability to talk about the story with the smoke screen of "we're just reporting on the fact that it was reported by someone else."


This is the best way to describe what they do.


I love one of their video series called Worth It: https://www.buzzfeed.com/worthit


Most businesses are “bullcrap to make money”. What does your comment have to do with unionization?


Something to be applauded, but I fear that this may be too little too late, especially considering Buzzfeed's heavy dependency on "community content" (read: unpaid work).


This is what unions are for. SAG exists (in part) so greedy studios don't cast desperate actors without pay.


>Something to be applauded, but I fear that this may be too little too late

Well you could also see it as history repeating itself. We're only at the start of the new gilded age and now it's service workers and people higher up the value chain that are seeing the consequences of squeezes in the work place.

Maybe this time around it'll be IT workers and journalists who discover that organised labour exists.


As far as I can tell the vast majority of unions almost entirely existed in dead industries that all moved to China (and now that China's wages are rising as they develop mature markets to other countries behind the times) or have very close connections to gov work.


Those developments didn't occur in a vacuum. American industry and politicians have for half a century worked tirelessly to crush American unions or render them as ineffective as possible.

There are plenty of examples of countries with strong unions, solid industry/services sectors and workers that aren't being exploited (read: underpaid, overworked, poor or unsafe working conditions, etc.). Every benefit you have as an employee that is enshrined in law was fought for by a union!


That is not true. Unions totally dominated major industries in the US. Most of those that didn't outsource saw themselves become uncompetitive and lose market share to foreign competitors.

Public services that unionized saw costs go up and quality stagnate or decrease.

>There are plenty of examples of countries with strong unions, solid industry/services sectors and workers that aren't being exploited

Like what? Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany? Any countries without strong work ethics and a tradition of engineering excellence? As for the Northern European zone, how has wage growth been in there these past 40 years?


> Unions totally dominated major industries in the US.

Yes. They DID. And since their heyday they've been sliced and diced at until there's nearly nothing left today.

>As for the Northern European zone, how has wage growth been in there these past 40 years?

Not a lot. But that's the case for all of the west, and certainly also for the US. Meanwhile, quality of life and happiness in those countries has risen. The US, on the other hand..


That's ahistorical. The reason union membership rates declined is that the industries they dominated shrank. By and large the unions killed their own industries. For example, passenger rail service was bankrupted by the punishing collective bargaining agreements the Brotherhoods coerced passenger rail lines into.

>>Not a lot. But that's the case for all of the west, and certainly also for the US.

Yes, and a large part of that is that any investor knows that any large stable concentration of skilled workers in the West will unionize and began extracting above market wages.

That's why the only unionized sectors in the West that have seen significant growth are those paid for by the taxpayer.


Hollywood actors and screenwriters moved to China?


I do not see unionizing as the solution. The entire industry needs to reinvent itself. It's totally understandable to seek security; but the issue is deeper. This wouldn't be the economic solution that can sustain itself – it maybe allows temporary job security.

The platforms that exist today are in danger of capitulating because the common consumer of our zeitgeist no longer has the behavior to pay for what they use. Social media has absolutely destroyed what paying for a product means. The common consumer has become used to not paying online because they are the product.

These businesses are not sustainable no matter what in the current zeitgeist of ad money and social media. Besides the option of all journalists working for Twitter and Facebook which wouldn't be my pick... but that's another topic.

We need something radically different to offset that imbalance.


Well they get upset if you tell them to learn how to code, could even get you banned from twitter.

I prefer independants these days, folks on bitchute and youtube and etc. The "organized press" has been gunning for shutting down independants with crap like six degrees of hitler, like what happened with gab. But ultimately it has next to zero overhead to start your own "channel", and you find people that actually do a pretty decent analysis without being obvious political tools or otherwise completely manipulative all the time.


These businesses are not sustainable because their costs exceed their income. It's perfectly possible to make profitable and sustainable news outlets. The Times of London is profitable and has been for years, for example, because it put up a paywall and creates journalism people are willing to pay for. The Daily Telegraph also posts healthy profits.

I'm afraid there's a a very clear correlation here that people seem to be in denial about. There isn't a problem with people paying for news. There's no problem with the internet and there's no need for new business models. News can be profitable and for some firms, it is. What's not profitable is freely distributed left-wing agenda journalism like Buzzfeed: the market is saturated, and the people who make it do it primarily for influence and not to build a business. As a consequence they not only woefully over hire, but they are also loathe to put up paywalls and take other obvious steps more conservative, more business oriented media outlets have been willing to take.

A simple contrast is between the Guardian, which had as of a few years ago over 1000 journalists, no paywall and massive losses, with the Times, which turned a profit. To illustrate the irony here is an opinion piece in the Guardian asking whether this "joltingly unlikely thing" is "worth it":

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/dec/07/is-profit-wort...

> Murdoch’s flagships are locked behind a barrier that throttles traffic and, arguably, relevance. But they made £1.7m last year.

Well, is being a sustainable business worth it? Is it better to be able to pay the bills or be "relevant"? These are probably not questions most working people have the luxury of asking, and given the state of the Guardian's finances, soon it won't be a luxury they have either.


But consumers are happy to pay subscriptions, we've seen this with apple music and spotify, amazon prime, netflix etc. Consumers know what value for money they are getting with these services and the convenience of them, converting freemium users to paid users is a task that each of these services has been successful at.

There was a similar thread on HN talking about this very subject. If a news source is behind a paywalled subscription model - even if they promise unbiased, non-partisan investigative journalism, how many would actually deliver this and not compromise the trust of their readership? How many would even dare to promise this in the zeitgeist of fake news and gear their business model around this? At the moment it's a risk that no credible news source wants to take.


So like, a Basic Income Guarantee, Single Payer health insurance not tied to employment and maybe some sort of jobs program we could use to solve a couple of pressing problems involving climate change and failing infrastructure?

Sign me UP!


I think this is a perfect anti union example. These "journalists" were probably laid off because the market was not interested in their highly politicized outrage "journalism," possibly in addition the recent expiration of the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda act. A union would only have kept these people onboard as dead weight.


If they unionize that means that the company as a whole would reap what they sow with their editorial direction, instead of being able to just lay off the employees who carried out the marching orders. Their listicle and quizlet department can't save them now. I'm for it.


> If they unionize that means that the company as a whole would reap what they sow with their editorial direction

...And so you mean the company would fold. What would be good about that?


This is great news. Other industries, including software and IT, would stand to benefit from unionization, as well.


Look at Detroit in the 1950s (highest median income in the US) and look at it today (a ghost town), to see the long term effects of unionization on industry.

The reason the US software industry has been getting stronger and producing ever greater numbers of high paying jobs is that it enjoys the efficiencies of a free market in labor, aka it's not dominated by monopolizing unions.


The impact of the gas crisis, a preference for foreign imports, and the continued (real or percieved) lower quality of American-made vehicles might act as several intervening factors for the fall of Detroit; moreover, while all unions intervene on behalf of their employees, not all enforce wage ceilings.

The Screen Actors Guild is a counterexample for both points - Hollywood continues to be world-leading, and top actors continued to be paid well, while even the actor you've heard the least of has a minimum wage, down to rules around how many times they can be called-back for an audition.

The free market relies on free association, equal footing, and complete information for both parties. For most people, the business has a significant power advantage. Moreover, management is organizing together in order to depress wages through non-poach agreements - why shouldn't the workers work together as well?


Hollywood is a counterexample, I'll grant you that, but I'd argue it's only because the nature of film making - with many short-lived independent productions - doesn't give unionized work units the monopoly control they would have in large stable production facilities, like factories, and moreover, due to being cultural work, is very difficult to outsource.

Numerous industries in both the private and public sector have declined since being unionized.

Germany seems to have strong unions and a strong auto industry, but the German economy as a whole has suffered decades of wage stagnation. One outperforming industry alone doesn't negate the broader correlation between restrictive labor laws, and degraded economic performance.

>>The free market relies on free association, equal footing, and complete information for both parties.

A free market merely means anyone is free to offer their products/services, and everyone is free to take the best offer on the market.

There are plenty of market failures and government-imposed market distortions, but the idea that locking the market down with one-size-fits-all labor relation rules is going to mitigate the harm of these distortions is unbelievable. It's just going to make industry less effective, and in the long run, less beneficial to its workers.


Look at the car towns in Germany and you will see the long term effects of unionization on industry. Companies do well and their employees too.


American style unions are illegal in Germany.


Which should be an argument for the reforming and redesigning of American labor unions, not a dismissal of the concept.


Our society is too polarized and our history with unions too negative for reform to be possible. The Supreme Court, for example, was excoriated for the Janus decision--holding that compulsory membership in public sector unions violates the Constitution. But that's the German rule for all unions.


What specifically differentiates "American style unions" from German unions from a legal perspective?


In America, the principle of "exclusive representation" applies to all labor unions.

If employees in department X at firm Y wish to unionize, they elect one democratically. This often involves affiliating themselves with an established union (choosing the affiliate is part of the formation/election process). If a majority of employees in department X vote for unionization, a contract between all employees in department X and management is negotiated. This newly elected union is now considered the exclusive representative of all employees covered by the agreement (i.e. in the bargaining unit). This has the following key implications:

1) No other unions may be formed within this department, and all negotiations between management and covered employees must go through the union.

2) The union has a legal obligation to fully represent each one of the employees in department X fairly and equally. In the states that allow it, this means that even if an employee in department X is not a member of the union, the union still must represent and negotiate on behalf of them as if they were a dues-paying active member. Employees who feel they are not being represented can sue their union for inadequate representation (in the same way that you can sue an incompetent lawyer).

(Point #2 is designed to balance out the problems that could come with just point #1.)

I go into all of this to contrast our system with Germany's system, where no exclusive representation exists. Some employees in a department may be represented by union X, others by union Y, some may be non-union. The company that employs them will have to negotiate three different contracts to keep this theoretical department running.

This system has its upsides: German unions never have to negotiate on behalf of non-members. It can also get extremely complicated. A large company may have to juggle many contracts just for one type of employee. The union that represents some arbitrary group of employees might change from year to year. These are just a few things that American companies don't have to deal with.

Maybe this is the system we have to move to in America post-Janus? I don't know, but it's worth remembering that exclusive representation was designed as a convenience to management in simplifying negotiations; I don't think our corporate leaders would prefer it at all.


> 2) The union has a legal obligation to fully represent each one of the employees in department X fairly and equally.

Sure, but what do you see as the difference in representation from person to person? Something that's beneficial to one worker (better conditions, more pay, etc) is almost always beneficial to their coworkers, too. Isn't negotiating a contract to the benefit of any of the workers pretty much automatically to the benefit of all of them?

> Employees who feel they are not being represented can sue their union for inadequate representation

This sounds like one of those facts which is technically true but practically useless. I googled it and found a number of answers that all say essentially: the courts recognize that unions have finite resources, and grant them leeway in choosing what to pursue. You probably will never win a case against your union, even for just being bad at what they do, unless they specifically discriminated against you on the basis of a protected class.

I've never heard of it happening, and I can't find any cases on the internet, either.

> This system has its upsides: German unions never have to negotiate on behalf of non-members.

What does this mean in practice? "We'd like better working conditions, but only for the names on this list"?


Note that there is, contrary to this description, no requirement for union lines to be drawn on internal organizational (“department”) lines, instead, they are generally drawn on job-role lines.


Yes, this is an oversimplification. I used department to avoid getting into the legal definition of a bargaining unit, which is extremely situational and tricky to define. In my example, assume everyone in department X does more or less the same thing :)


From what I know German unions are much bigger. IG Metall covers a lot of industry like car manufacturers, Siemens is in it, Stihl chainsaws, Bosch and a lot of other companies.

There are laws that mandate that from a certain size on employees have voting rights in management boards.

In general the relationship between employees and employers is a little more cooperative compare to the US.


In Germany, compulsory union membership and "union shops" are illegal.


> In Germany, compulsory union membership and "union shops" are illegal.

Any my understanding is that in Germany, unions have much more direct influence over company decision-making than American unions. IANAL, but I've heard German-style unions would be illegal in the US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_unions_in_Germany#Struct...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_council#Germany

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-determination#Germany


One key difference is that American-style is much more adversarial (each side trying to screw the other) where the German unions appear[1] to be more of a partnership than we managed to pull off.

[1] I say appear because I've only been (somewhat) involved with American-style (mostly from the management side)


They really are more cooperative. In LA there all the stories where the union prevents people from changing a lightbulb on a movie set if not done by someone in the union. This would never happen in Germany.


The history of Detroit is much more complex than you're making it out to be.


Seems like the kind of thing Buzzfeed would be all for


Lean management may be the answer


I expect this will affect the political impartiality of Buzzfeed journalists. They will have a direct financial interest in discrediting the idea of a free market in the public eye.


By your very own logic the editorial board/owners of news media have a financial interest in discrediting the idea of collective bargaining and profit sharing in the public eye, instead promoting free-market ideas at all costs.

If you claim they don't, then you can't draw that conclusion for unionized journalists either


Of course, the owners are not going to support restrictive labor relations laws that are directly aimed at reducing their private property and contracting rights in order to enable their employees to extract above-market wages from them.

But it's pretty hard for owners to prevent this kind of outcome. You are legally restricted from exercising your right to free association and only employing people who oppose unions, if you ever become an owner.


As opposed to non-union media organizations having a direct financial interest in discrediting the idea of unions in the public eye?


Single company unions are very interesting.

There’s often very little reason not to join a single company union. Not joining means your coworkers will already dislike you, and typically your pay will be higher anyway. This makes single company unions incredibly easy to form strong monopolies on their employers labor supply.

Contrast this to monopolies in the greater market, a company typically needs to dominate the entire industry to form an effective monopoly.

Effectively unions limit a company’s labor supply to a single supplier - the union - despite there often being hundreds of other near identical suppliers/unions in the greater marketplace. Imagine if you could only buy smartphones from Apple, and other people could only buy smartphones from samsung. That’s effectly what single company unions accomplish. Quite miraculous.


The system you describe as a "single company union" -- which seems to be a closed shop contract with a union that operates a hiring hall -- has been illegal in America since the late 1940s.

Therefore, that is not at all what Buzzfeed's journalists are organizing here.


They didn't join a single company union though as far as I understand. Other members of NewsGuild-CWA: http://www.newsguild.org/mediaguild3/?p=5130




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