Gothamist unionizes, Trumpist billionaire owner throws a tantrum and shuts it down

Joe Ricketts, Trumpist founder of TD Ameritrade and owner of DNAinfo (which acquired Gothamist and the other -ist) sites, has shut down all Gothamist and related properties following a unionization vote by his employees.

Ricketts posted a disingenous note to the sites' front doors blaming "insufficient progress" to "support the tremendous effort and expense" of the business for the shut down.

In September, Mr. Ricketts, a conservative who supported President Trump in last year’s election, raised the ante with a post on his blog titled “Why I’m Against Unions At Businesses I Create,” in which he argued that “unions promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.”

But reporters at many digital news sites make only a fraction of what staffers made in the heyday of print newspapers. And in joining the Writers Guild of America East, which has organized staffs at some larger digital organizations, including Vice and HuffPost, the DNAinfo and Gothamist staffers hoped for stability and recognition.

Emma Whitford, a Gothamist reporter, said that organizers from the union assured the workers that threats to shut the sites down were just “textbook union-busting tactics.”

The union said in a statement: “It is no secret that threats were made to these workers during the organizing drive. The Guild will be looking at all of our potential areas of recourse and we will aggressively pursue our new members’ rights.”

DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize [Andy Newman and John Leland/New York Times]