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In 2019, in the wake of layoffs, frozen pay, and massive restructuring, employees at media companies across the county have turned to collective bargaining to help protect their jobs and secure better pay and benefits.
Just yesterday, the Ringer joined a long line of digital publications starting a union. Most media organization offered support for the Ringer, but most media organizations are not Barstool Sports, the often-misogynistic website for people who enjoy consuming stolen viral videos.
Instead, Barstool Sports President Dave “El Presidente” Portnoy took time out of his day to bash unions, and then when people responded, declare that if any of his employees looked into unionizing or spoke with labor lawyers, he would fire them. He also said that unions were for “pussies.”
But beyond the brash and sexist nature of the comments, they are also illegal.
Like the AFL-CIO tweets, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 stops bosses from “interfering with the formation or administration of any labor organization.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) echoed the same sentiment on Twitter.
If you’re a boss tweeting firing threats to employees trying to unionize, you are likely breaking the law &can be sued,in your words, “on the spot.”— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 13, 2019
ALL workers in the US have the protected freedom to organize for better conditions.
See @NLRB &union orgs like @AFLCIO for tips. https://t.co/bU7WlHrp1d
If you work for Barstool and want to have a private chat about the unionization process, how little power your boss has to stop you, and how you can leverage that power to make your life better: my DMs are open.— Rafi Letzter (@RafiLetzter) August 13, 2019
Anybody who hires this lawyer will be fired immediately and I will personally sue you for damages and back wages. https://t.co/wxg3odCWUk— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 13, 2019
Me too. Just so I can crush it and reassert my dominance. https://t.co/DoLl61wRVW— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 13, 2019
Portnoy’s tweets—which like with anything Barstool-related, will be likely defended with claims of irony and satire—were flagged by the nation’s biggest labor organization, the AFL-CIO.
Bad Boss Example #1.— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) August 13, 2019
The NLRA prohibits bosses from engaging in unfair labor practices including "interfering with the formation or administration of any labor organization." #1u https://t.co/fUWzbcRCep
The organization even DMed the tweets to the National Labor Relations Board.
By laughing off organized labor, Portnoy seems to have opened up an avenue for his employees to organize.
This post has been updated.
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David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]