Prompted by The Ringer’s unionization, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, whose site uses the tagline “By the common man, for the common man,” has spent a lot of his time yesterday and today coming out as a big anti-union guy. This was a predictable shtick from the guy who sold MAGA hats and yuks it up with Tucker Carlson, but what was actually disheartening was the sight of his employees nosing their boss’s butt.
On Monday, Portnoy recycled a blog he wrote when Gawker Media unionized, and boasted about how he’d stop any unionization effort at his company.
This part just doesn’t make any sense. There are plenty of unions in sports!
This morning, Portnoy tested labor laws by threatening to can any employee who talked about unionization with a writer from Live Science. He successfully drew the attention of AFL-CIO and the New York State Department of Labor:
Portnoy’s stance on this issue isn’t surprising, but his subordinates’ reactions were. Dan Katz, who holds some leverage at the site because of the success of his and Eric Sollenberger’s podcast Pardon My Take, used the oldest line in the book when asked for a real answer on how he felt about unions: “I’m very pro-union. I don’t think a union makes sense for us.” A couple of his coworkers agreed:
All of these talking points are standard opposition to a union, and none of them hold water. (Especially the argument that their boss is actually cool.) If working at Barstool Sports is as perfect as they insist—it’d be more useful to ask the behind-the-scenes employees about that one—then that’s all the more reason to unionize. A collective bargaining agreement could force management to put guarantees behind those benefits, perks, and health insurance plans—you know, that stuff for pussies. Then Chernin Group and whoever else is actually in charge couldn’t take away all that good stuff on a whim if shit went sideways tomorrow.
Consider one of the site’s slogans, “Saturdays Are For The Boys,” popularized after one of Barstool’s writers heard someone else say it. How did Saturdays come to be for the boys? By the existence of the weekend. Why does the weekend exist? Labor unions. I rest my case.