Newspaper employees strike as BuzzFeed nears SPAC deal

BuzzFeed is voting to go public, but many of its employees have just left.

The protest came on the same day as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), 890 Fifth Avenue Partners Inc., is set to vote on a merger with BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed News representatives quit Thursday as the organization intends to exchange on the stock market. The association said 61 workers participated in the 24-hour walkout for better pay and working conditions at the digital media company. The association said that their employer is just contribution a 1% yearly ensured increment and a lowest pay permitted by law floor of $50,000, which the Guild accepts will be accessible to individuals living in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. It is very little. The reason for the walkout is to “send a reminder that without us there is no BuzzFeed News as we fight for our first collective bargaining agreement, the association said on Twitter. The group, part of the News Guild of New York, said it has been arranging an agreement for almost two years.

The deal announced earlier this year is expected to close in the fourth quarter, giving BuzzFeed a valuation of $1.5 billion. Some investors are pulling out their money in the SPAC, reducing BuzzFeed’s cash proceeds, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

BuzzFeed, a New York-based news and entertainment media company, said it employs 1,100 workers and will grow to 1,400 employees next week after it acquires Complex Networks, a youth network that features fashion, food, music and sports content, in a $300-million deal.

BuzzFeed News workers who participated in the walkout represent about 6% of the company’s total employees.

“There’s a bargaining session planned for next Tuesday where we hope the union will present a response on these issues,” BuzzFeed said in a statement. “Before then, the company is gearing up for an incredibly exciting milestone: becoming the first publicly traded digital media company, and acquiring Complex Networks. We couldn’t be more excited about everything that lies ahead for BuzzFeed and its employees.”

The company said it is offering a minimum 2.5% wage increase, including a 1% guaranteed paid increase and the remainder distributed across the unit based on merit.

But BuzzFeed News’ union said it is concerned that the company has pushed back on its request to not discipline workers over traffic and revenue metrics.

“If they want digital media to be modeled on BuzzFeed then they have to do better,” said Ema O’Connor, a BuzzFeed News political reporter, at a Twitter Spaces event Thursday hosted by the union. “The traffic discipline — all of these things are the horror show version of what people think that digital media is and so we need to convince them … that is just not acceptable.” BuzzFeed over the years has become a major player in the digital media space. It was initially created as a lab in New York’s Chinatown, where it experimented with the ways people engaged with content online.

Now its brands include BuzzFeed News, HuffPost and food network Tasty, among others. In June, BuzzFeed News won the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. BuzzFeed had $90.1 million in revenue in the third quarter, up 20% from a year ago, but posted a net loss of $3.58 million in the quarter, according to a regulatory filing.

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