In a previous article arguing that a border wall is progressive, I stated that “Progressivism aims to empower and protect the power of labor by manipulating supply and demand.” This, as explained, comes at the expense of management and the free market. In the past week, remaining Buzzfeed employees have formed the Buzzfeed Union in order to save their jobs. With economic conditions as good as they are, the media industry stands out as a struggling to keep afloat. Several prominent publications have cut staff and a few notable ones have shut down entirely, among them The Weekly Standard. The Buzzfeed Union looks to buck this trend. But from history and intermediate economics, this move, rather than providing the job security for every Buzzfeed employee, chains the employees to the ship so that they all go down with the Buzzfeed fleet. The most talented employees are linked with the “listicle” writers who fail at comedy. Treating these skillsets equally will unduly maintain and increase labor costs in a fragile industry. Buzzfeed already has unnecessarily high costs. There is no need to have facilities in New York City, where costs are excessively high, when the clickbait produced could be done in Omaha, Nebraska. These New York employees require New York wages to cover the New York expenses. The Buzzfeed Union solidifies the immobility of the company.
Furthermore, the company has stated it wants to cut costs to increase profitability. Bad time for employees to unionize if you are management. Unions may be good for employees in the short term but in the long term, look at Detroit. A hundred years ago, Detroit was Silicon Valley. Now, it stands an impoverished shadow of its former glory. Auto manufacturing is still alive and well in the United States, much of the production is in the south where there is no forced unionization.
A number of years ago, I was touched by the story of Hostess. In 2013, The beloved Twinkie was out of US stores for a number of months because a failed collective bargaining agreement crippled the financially struggling company. The vast majority of the 18000 workers who were laid off were unionized. When the union made demands of the company that could not be met, the company folded. The unionized workers lost their jobs because of their union. It’s no wonder why the private sector has largely made unions irrelevant. With increase mobility between jobs, unionized labor peaked in the 1950s only to be dominated by public sector employees, such as police and teachers. The latter of which causes troubles for both students and taxpayers across the country. Unions are designed to make it difficult to terminate employees. In countries where progressive policies that make termination difficult, we see higher unemployment rates. France’s unemployment is at 9.1% while the United States is at a near-ideal 4%.
The thing about media is, anybody can do it, including me. Because anybody can post articles online, competition is fierce. Therefore, the bargaining power of journalist and pundits is drastically reduced. Again, anybody can do what they do, whether they do it well makes little difference to the former statement. The Buzzfeed Union gives the employees undue leverage that will hinder the company when competition is fierce and its brand deteriorates. When Buzzfeed closes its doors, the Buzzfeed Union will likely be partially responsible.