By Sahid Fawaz
This is union-busting at its worst.
“When billionaire Joe Ricketts on Thursday shut down the Gothamist and DNAInfo news sites he owns, his company didn’t hesitate to identify one culprit: the staff’s successful unionization vote last week.
‘The decision by the editorial team to unionize is simply another competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful,’ a spokesperson told the New York Times. More than a hundred workers lost their jobs.
Under U.S. labor law, it’s illegal to tell workers you will shut down operations if they join a union. But it’s not illegal to actually shut down the business once they unionize. Although Ricketts could not have legally laid people off in response to their vote, he was well within his rights to zap the entire company and turn the lights off in part or entirely because of the union. Gothamist’s satellite sites in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., were shut down right along with the two offices that unionized.
Ricketts lost money on DNAInfo for years, and bought Gothamist only in March. But his decision to shut them down right after a union vote could be felt at non-union sites throughout journalism, particularly as a wave of digital news sites have sought collecting bargaining.
‘It seems like someone like Ricketts is doing this out of capital due diligence more than anything,’ said Moshe Marvit, a labor lawyer and fellow at the Century Foundation think tank. ‘I think it definitely sends a message. He wanted to say workers should be afraid. Journalists aren’t stupid. They’re going to pay attention.'”
For the rest of the story, check out the full piece at the Huffington Post here.