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Did Mic layoff their entire editorial staff to break a union?


which focused on social justice issues, laid of its entire
editorial staff on Thursday.

  • On Thursday, Mic laid off its entire editorial team ahead of
    an acquisition by Bustle Digital Group, which said it plans to
    relaunch the site in 2019.
  • Elite Daily also laid off staff ahead of its acquisition by
    Bustle in 2017.
  • Labor lawyers said laying off unionized staff before a sale,
    while legal, is a way for the acquirer to avoid recognizing the

On Thursday, millennial-aimed publisher Mic
laid off
most its 100-person staff ahead of its acquisition
and relaunch plan
by Bustle Digital Group.
Mic cofounder and CEO Chris Altchek
 Facebook’s cancelation of
Mic’s “Dispatch” show on Facebook Watch
for the company’s
declining finances.

The revelation sparked “outrage” among former staff who saw
the layoffs as an attempt by Mic and Bustle, which both tout
progressive editorial missions, to break Mic’s editorial union,
former employees said.

“It seems like it’s a
pretty blatant way to keep the Mic brand while getting rid of the
unionized members and also the members that hold the values that
Mic has built their brand on,” one employee said. “For me, it’s
hard to see how that’s not obvious union-busting.”

, an expert in labor law at the City University of New
York, said laying off staff ahead of being acquired or reopening
is a way for companies to get rid of unions

the majority of Bustle’s new employees
consist of Mic’s employees, they could have a duty to recognize
the union and be able to bargain with them,” she said. “If Bustle
decided that it would hire new employees and they’re going to
structure their workforce so that less than a majority is
comprised of former employees, then they would have effectively
gotten rid of the union.”

Chaumtoli Huq, who teaches labor
law at the City University of New York and is editor-in-chief of
social justice publication Law At The Margins, said the practice
could be legal unless there is other evidence of “anti-union

Read more:

The 35-year-old founder of Bustle and Bleacher Report reportedly
just bought for $1.35 million, and Hulk Hogan is
entitled to a cut of the sale

Bustle’s history with acquisitions

Bustle built its brand on producing highly searchable content
produced by writers that were paid as little as
$100 per day
. Some noted similarities between the Mic
situation and what happened when Bustle acquired lifestyle site
Elite Daily in 2017.

Elite Daily
laid off 47 of 94 staffers ahead of the sale.
Bustle offered
some jobs as contract employees with less pay and no benefits,
according to former employees. Editors were demoted while
reporters with no management experience were promoted to editor
positions with no pay increases, the former employees said.
Ex-Elite Daily employee Anna Menta tweeted: “I’d keep an
eye on what kind of ‘rebuilding’ goes on here.”

In a statement, Bustle told Business Insider, “Following
the acquisition of Mic, Bustle Digital Group will take a
thoughtful approach on the company’s future plans. We have no
further comment.”

What’s next for former Mic employees

In February, Mic employees announced they planned to join
the NewsGuild of New York, joining other digital newsrooms that
have unionized in recent years. Mic recognized the union in
March, but a union contract hadn’t been secured by Thursday’s

Mic leadership told laid-off staff they would be given one
month’s severance and that their health insurance would continue
through December but that because Mic’s insurance contracts are
terminating after that, COBRA will not be available for

In a
Thursday, the union accused Mic’s cofounders of
“deception” and indicated its willingness “to fight for what is
right and just” and continue “to pursue all options available to

Lung said that without a
contract, Mic has little legal accountability to the union
members. Huq and Lung said the employees could still seek unfair
labor practice charges, claiming Mic violated its
duty to
bargain with them.

“Under the law, Mic had an obligation to make an effort to arrive
at a contract — Mic and Bustle’s layoffs could be seen as an
anti-union effort in retaliation for that,” Huq said.

The power that workers have is
the power that they create through demands and through collective
organizing; it doesn’t rest on them having a contract,” Lung

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