Nobody should ever trust their boss so implicitly that they're willing to give up a safety net for themselves and their families.
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
Digital media writers dedicate their careers to exposing the many injustices of the world, all while ignoring the injustices right at their own desks. That ends now.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, a notorious douchebro (at least according to his public persona), took the opportunity to rehash his anti-union stance from 2015, back when Gawker writers unionized.
Heard @ringer employees want to unionize. Little refresher how I feel about unions. Gawker Writers Vote To Unio… https://t.co/plXHmNKvLC— Dave Portnoy (@Dave Portnoy)1565627008.0
Portnoy's language may be jokey, but commenters took his threat to fire any employee who attempted to unionize seriously. The backlash was immediate, with many calling Portnoy's union-busting threats illegal and offering various services (such as pro bono legal help) to Barstool employees. Portnoy doubled down, threatening to fire any employee who even reached out to anyone offering help.
@stoolpresidente @barstoolsports To whom it may concern: I've taken a screen shot of this tweet as evidence of il… https://t.co/UDUj9GTOol— No one's fool🍑 (@No one's fool🍑)1565707261.0
These threats drew the attention of the New York State Department of Labor.
It is illegal to take any unfavorable action – including termination – against employees for union-related activit… https://t.co/R5FEP3cnED— NYS Dept of Labor (@NYS Dept of Labor)1565712688.0
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got involved, condemning Portnoy's actions.
https://t.co/XEmEvt12N4 https://t.co/kNtTjxgsuC— Dave Portnoy (@Dave Portnoy)1565717696.0
Portnoy relished this, repeatedly challenging AOC to debate him for some reason. Then Donald Trump's least impressive son joined the fray.
Picking a fight with @stoolpresidente and @barstoolsports is probably the biggest mistake @AOC has ever made on Twi… https://t.co/oRfQ2i7Msc— Donald Trump Jr. (@Donald Trump Jr.)1565730991.0
Portnoy continued tweeting threats ad nauseum and circle-jerking with his favorite public-facing writers. But while the drama might be amusing, it's important to recognize the core issue at-hand: Dave Portnoy is proving why digital media writers need to unionize.
Without unions, it's incredibly easy for digital media companies to take advantage of writers. The writing field is hyper-competitive in the sense that there are a limited number of jobs and a ton of people who think they can write (whether or not they actually can is another story). As a result, a lot of writers (especially younger ones) are willing to put up with poor treatment if it might put their foot in the door.
Digital media companies oftentimes recognize this and exploit it. For example, many are notorious for hiring writers full-time but calling their positions "internships" in order to avoid paying them the benefits that accompany standard employment. In fact, a lot of full-time digital media writers, despite working for profitable companies, go without proper healthcare coverage. Some of these companies don't even offer standard 401k plans.
It's ironic how many writers pursue the career due to their passion for exposing injustice, all while their own industry rakes them over the coals.
In the digital media space, companies often rely on their trendy, woke public-facing image, but that's not always a good indicator for how they value their employees. For instance, it took Buzzfeed News staff five months of protest and action before BuzzFeed officially recognized their union.
And while Barstool's public-facing writers said they actually get great benefits, that's not a particularly good reason not to unionize. In an industry that has been increasingly wracked by layoffs, even employees in seemingly great situations need protection. Otherwise, essential elements of their livelihoods, like healthcare, exist entirely at the whim of profit-driven owners with no incentive to offer a safety net should finances go south.
Dave Portnoy might actually be a wonderful boss behind closed doors, but if he actually cared about his writers (especially if he already gives them great benefits), why would he be so vocally against them having protection? After all, Portnoy isn't the sole owner or decision-maker at Barstool Sports, and even if he was, at the end of the day his interests lie with the company's profits. Nobody should ever trust their boss so implicitly that they're willing to give up a safety net for themselves and their families.
Unions exist to ensure that workers are protected in negotiations with their employers. Otherwise, there's no guarantee that they'll be given a seat at the table, and when workers aren't taken seriously, they're ripe for exploitation by corporations. The digital media industry is in the midst of a reckoning. Writers are finally done giving lip service to fight injustices in other industries while turning a blind eye to those of their own.
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The young star died in his sleep one year ago today.
Everyone who knew Cameron Boyce during his life described him as unfailingly kind.
The actor died unexpectedly on July 6th 2019 after suffering a seizure in his sleep. Since then, co-stars, friends, and fans alike have been grieving his loss.
At just nine years old, Boyce made his acting debut in a Panic! at the Disco music video. He soon became a household name among a certain age group thanks to his role in Jessie, a Disney Channel show that ran from 2011 to 2015. His movie credits include Mirrors, Eagle Eye with Shia LaBeouf and Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2 with Adam Sandler.
The only Black Driver in the top tier of NASCAR, Bubba Wallace is standing strong
Update 7/6/2020: On Monday morning President Trump tweeted about the noose incident, referring to the mistaken intent of the noose as a "HOAX" and wondering if Bubba Wallace had apologized to "those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid." President Trump also asserted that the incident, along with NASCAR's decision to ban the confederate flag had resulted in the association losing viewership for their races, yielding what Trump termed their "lowest ratings EVER!"
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his sid… https://t.co/XGPapgYIAA— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1594038787.0