Half of BuzzFeed Canada staff laid off

2023.04.21 | CWA Canada Local 30213 - Canadian Media Guild

Canadian employees of BuzzFeed were not spared in worldwide job cuts announced Thursday by the company.

Five of the 10 editorial staff at BuzzFeed’s Toronto operation, who became members of CWA Canada Local 30213 (the Canadian Media Guild) in March 2019 and landed their first collective agreement in October 2021, have been notified that they are being laid off. All of them work for the affiliate shopping network, which means they write “listicles” and other content aimed at assisting consumer choices.

Five other CMG members at BuzzFeed Canada will not be affected.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti told staff via email Thursday the company was shutting down its news division and laying off roughly 15 per cent of its total workforce — about 180 people.

It was a stunning development for the pioneering digital media outlet that had captured a Pulitzer Prize over its 11 years of producing high-profile scoops.

CMG President Annick Forest said the union was in contact with management and is working to ensure members’ rights are respected in accordance with the collective agreement and “treated fairly in this difficult time.”

In February 2019, 61 of their colleagues in the United States formed the BuzzFeed News Union with CWA Local 31003 (the NewsGuild of New York). They ratified their first collective agreement last year.

Susan DeCarava, president of the Local, issued this statement on Thursday:

“We’re deeply dismayed by the announced closing of this groundbreaking digital newsroom. Dozens of journalists represented by The NewsGuild of New York work at BuzzFeed News, and we are concerned both about their future and the broader impact of this announcement on the media industry at large.

“The collective bargaining contract … includes a number of protections to ensure workers aren’t left with nothing in the case of sudden layoffs. We expect that BuzzFeed will honor those commitments now, and we are prepared to enforce the terms of that contract if they don’t.

“Today’s news demonstrates why it’s so important for media workers to unionize. Corporate bottom lines privilege profitability all the time. As a union, our collective bottom line is to the workers who made BuzzFeed News the innovative news organization it is, and to the communities and public interest that the newsroom and our members serve. There are real life consequences when management favors short-term returns over long-term investments. That’s why we fight hard for contracts that provide protections and support for workers unfairly left holding the bag from a company’s questionable decisions.”

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