Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the New York State Department of Labor on Tuesday singled out Dave Portnoy, founder of the media company Barstool Sports, for his threat to fire any employees who seek more information about unions.
If you’re a boss tweeting firing threats to employees trying to unionize, you are likely breaking the law &can be sued,in your words, “on the spot.”
ALL workers in the US have the protected freedom to organize for better conditions.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 13, 2019
Employees of Bill Simmons’s sports and culture outlet The Ringer on Monday announced they were unionizing. In response to the news, Barstool Sports’s Portnoy made a point of tweeting his own unfavorable views of unionization, and followed those thoughts up with a threat to fire any employees for seeking information about unionization “on the spot.”
He went on to issue further threats, including one responding to a lawyer who offered to help Barstool employees unionize (“Anybody who hires this lawyer will be fired immediately and I will personally sue you for damages and back wages”) and another expressing his hope that Barstool employees do unionize, “Just so I can crush it and reassert my dominance.”
Veteran labor reporter Steven Greenhouse expressed surprise at Portnoy’s tweets, writing that it’s “very rare that one sees a business executive broadcast his illegal threats through a megaphone like this.” Such threats are rare because, as Greenhouse mentioned, they’re illegal under federal law.
As one astute Twitter user pointed out, for Portnoy to face any real consequences for his tweets, Democrats will first have to retake the White House, then nominate more labor-friendly appointees to the NLRB, get those nominees confirmed by the Senate.
sir, SIR, if Trump loses and the democrats take the Senate and then kill the filibuster and can finally appoint someone to the NLRB this will get you a nominal fine after 10 years of appeals!
— Sigh Hersh (still a yianni d. fan) (@Ugarles) August 13, 2019