WGA East Files Unfair Labor Practice Against Media Company BDG Over Recent Layoffs

“We cannot, and will not, stand by while BDG undermines the process,” Writers Guild executive director Lowell Peterson said

Bryan Goldberg (Getty Images), Writers Guild of America, East logo
Bryan Goldberg (Getty Images), Writers Guild of America, East logo

Members of the Writers Guild of America, East who work for Bustle Media Group, filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board over a slew of layoffs at the global media company. 

On Tuesday, members took to Twitter in a livestream, showing themselves delivering what appeared to a Valentine to BDG chief executive Bryan Goldberg. However, the item was actually an unfair labor act charge, which the group filed hours prior.

The writers’ actions come after BDG allegedly laid off 39 unit members, with three active union members — Collette Reitz, former editor at “Elite Daily;” Emma Sarran Webster, former editor at “Mic,” and Sophie Worm, former video editor at “Some Spider.” The members say the company never shared a reason for their decision to layoff the three union supporters.

“These three unit members did not squarely fit into the categories BDG laid out to the WGAE representatives – or in the Company’s public messaging – regarding the layoffs. However, all three were regularly engaged in protected, concerted activity on behalf of the union of which management was well aware,” reads a release.

In addition to the layoffs, the website Gawker Media was also shut down. 

The members’ second claim is related to actions the group says BDG took place on Monday, Feb. 6, after unit members came together. On that day, the group says they changed their work Slack avatars to the BDG Union logo, and changed their names on Slack to “No Layoffs Fair Contract Now.” Shortly after, the group says BDG blocked them from posting on the company’s general Slack and deleted their messages. 

BDG guild members then shared a statement on their move. 

“The BDG Union condemns management’s actions following last week’s Slack pencil drop action. After we exercised our legal right to call for a fair contract, management kicked the Inverse team off of Slack — preventing the team from working for part of the morning. Management also has banned employees indefinitely from posting in the general BDG Slack, where we have previously sent messages demanding a contract, in addition to deleting all evidence of our protest. Today, we are delivering Unfair Labor Practice charges, specifically relating to illegal retaliation, to the office of BDG CEO Bryan Goldberg while donning union shirts and Napoleon hats — since Goldberg was happy to spend over $1 million on a hat but refuses to bargain fairly with the employees that create all of the revenue-generating content. We hope that our special Valentine’s card spurs management to proceed with fair bargaining.”

Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said their “goal is to negotiate a fair contract to ensure that the people we represent at BDG have a voice on the job and the protections they need. 

“We cannot, and will not, stand by while BDG undermines the process by committing Unfair Labor Practices,” Peterson said. 

BDG did not immediately respond to a request for comment by TheWrap.