Remember when Barstool Sports mocked unionization on Twitter? How do you think that ended?

White flag waving.svg

By Viktorvoigt, derivative work: Dove – Blue_flag_waving.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I’m guessing that the white flag may have been a bit of a spoiler.

Let’s rewind the tape and remind you what happened back in August. Here is Andrew Wallender’s recap Bloomberg Law:

The Barstool Sports controversy began after [Barstool Sports President, Dave Portnoy] re-posted a 2015 article where he said he would “smash” any employee union effort. When a union supporter then offered to chat about organizing with employees, Portnoy threatened that he would fire any employee who reached out to him about organizing.

“If you work for @barstoolsports and DM this man I will fire you on the spot,” Portnoy tweeted Aug. 13.

The comment led to allegations that the sports blogger was breaking federal labor laws by threatening workers. The founder reiterated his position in subsequent tweets, posting a shirt for sale with his face and the words “Union Buster.” He also challenged Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to a debate after the congresswoman said Portnoy was likely breaking the law with his threat.

I also blogged about it here.

Shortly after Mr. Portony’s August 13 tweet, the National Labor Relations Board began an investigation into charges against Barstool Sports and its affiliate.

Mr. Portnoy responded to the charges (NSFW).

Then, Barstool Sports began selling anti-union merch. It even created an NSFW video explaining unions. Except those links are now dead. As is Mr. Portnoy’s August 13 tweet. That’s because Barstool Sports has settled with the NLRB. You can find a copy of the settlement agreement here.

Pursuant to the deal, Barstool Sports agreed to delete some anti-union tweets, remove the anti-union video from its website, and deleted a Twitter account called @BSSUNION, which stands for “Barstool Sports Union.” Apparently, Barstool Sports set up the account as a ruse to smoke out employees who were interested in unionizing.🤔🤔🤔

The company also agreed to the standard menu of relief, such as not doing anything to prevent employees from exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, (e.g., threatening to fire employees who seek help or ask about any labor organization). The company can’t poll employees to determine their support for unions either. And Barstool Sports must publicize the settlement by displaying the settlement on some posters in the workplace.

Still, maybe Barstool Sports gets the last laugh. What if the merchandise sales, extra clicks/publicity and subscriber revenue generated more money for the company than it cost them in legal fees to defend the action?

What I do know is that you don’t have to like or support labor unions. But, generally speaking, employers lose when they threaten employees with adverse consequences, such as closing the workplace, loss of benefits, or more onerous working conditions, if they support a union, engage in union activity, or select a union to represent them.


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