NewsGuild Accuses Sports Illustrated Publisher Of Union Busting

Sports Illustrated still exists. But that doesn’t mean it has the robust staff it recently had, or that publisher The Arena Group is getting a free pass for recent layoffs.  

The SI Union, part of the NewsGuild of New York, sent a statement to The Arena Group on Monday, deploring what it alleges are the firm’s union-busting tactics.  

“Arena’s decision to terminate every unionized member of the SI staff jeopardizes not only the livelihoods of the more than 80 people who have fought to make SI the best it can be, but also threatens to destroy this iconic brand,” Monday’s statement says.  

It continues: “A version of Sports Illustrated produced without the SI Union would not be Sports Illustrated, but a sham and an insult to our publication’s storied history.”

On Jan. 19, every member of the SI Union was informed that they would be laid off, the union charges. The reason being that Authentic Brands Group had revoked Arena’s license to publish SI 



Most of the union employees were given 90 days’ notice under the New York State WARN Act. But the union alleges that more than 10% were let go at once, including a union officer and one employee who had filed a grievance against The Arena Group.   

The NewsGuild of New York, on behalf of the SI Union, filed an unfair labor practice against The Arena Group, accusing the company of discharging employees over their support of the union. 

However, supervisors and managers were not laid off, and the publication has continued on an interim basis, the union charges. 

The Arena Group said in a February SEC filing that it hopes to reach an agreement with Authentic Brands that would allow it to continue publishing Sports Illustrated.

But the editors and writers contend that this cannot be done without them. 

“For whatever the balance sheets may indicate, Sports Illustrated’s most valuable asset, its greatest strength and competitive advantage, is its people—committed, knowledgeable, ethical journalists informing and entertaining an audience, while upholding a reputation built over decades,” said L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and a 28-year employee. “An SI without us is simply not SI.”

Meanwhile, other activities seem to be continuing apace. The company announced late in February that SI Tickets, the publication’s NFT ticketing site, is partnering with Ava Labs to move its main platform, Box Office, to the Avalanche blockchain network.  


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