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Vol. 81/No. 43      November 20, 2017


Boss shuts internet news site to bust workers’ union

NEW YORK — Some 200 people rallied here Nov. 6 in support of 115 workers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., who were fired when Joe Ricketts, billionaire owner of DNAinfo and Gothamist, shut down the online news sites. Just days before the shutdown, 25 out of 27 workers at the New York office had voted to join the Writers Guild of America East. The other sites were nonunion.

“I’m proud to be out here today,” Emma Whitford, a Gothamist reporter, told the rally. “Don’t be afraid because of what happened to us. Do what we did. Unionize.”

Ricketts, founder of online investing company TD Ameritrade and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is worth over $2 billion. The sites had 9 million readers a month and paid workers a fraction of what they made “in the heyday of print newspapers,” the New York Times reported. Even so, the company said it was losing money.

But that wasn’t why Ricketts shut it down. In September he posted a statement titled, “Why I’m Against Unions at Businesses I Create.” It said, “Unions promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.” Earlier the company’s chief operations officer sent out an email threatening that joining the union might be “the final straw that caused the business to close.”

“It is no secret that threats were made to these workers during the organizing drive,” Writers Guild East Communications Director Jason Gordon said in a statement.

Members of District Council 37 public employees union, Teamsters, United Federation of Teachers along with other journalists joined the rally.
Related articles:
Safety at center of fight by Calif. aerospace workers
Striking Idaho silver miners rally to build support for union struggle
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