Staffers at Bustle Digital Group are forming a union with the Writers Guild of America East.
A number of employees at brands including Bustle, Nylon, Input, Romper, Elite and The Zoe Report signed union cards last week and the company has been informed of the unionization effort, although a BDG spokeswoman declined to comment. An official company response is expected later this week
In an internal memo seen by WWD, the union said it wants to focus on security, transparency and compensation, including benefits for part-time employees, as well as accountability for diversity, equity and inclusion.
BDG staffers will be following in the footsteps of those at Hearst Magazines, who recently won a lengthy battle to unionize with the WGAE.
The move to unionize comes just months after BDG faced criticism for receiving a $7.5 million federal loan aimed to help small businesses keep staff on the payroll amid the pandemic just two weeks after it laid off two dozen employees and shuttered The Outline. At the time, the company said the loan would enable it “to partially undo salary reductions across the company and expand hours for part-time and freelance writers,” but did not mention anything about saving jobs.
Most recently, WWD reported BDG has been pitching potential investors and is understood to have shared bullish forecasts, projecting revenues of $121 million and gross profit of $92 million, respectively, in 2021. In 2019, revenues came in at $89 million and are expected to slip to $83 million this year, but profit is on track to remain unchanged at $67 million.
As part of those forecasts, it is expecting its new venture operating W Magazine will generate $11 million a year by 2021 despite previous owners Condé Nast and Future Media Group struggling to turn W Magazine’s fortunes around.
That deal involves a number of celebrity backers — including models Karlie Kloss and Kaia Gerber and Formula One race car driver Lewis Hamilton. BDG will manage the newly named W Media’s sales, business and technology, with chief executive officer Bryan Goldberg serving as managing partner.
A spokesperson for WGAE did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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