As some of you may have already heard, after the passing of a new California law that was intended to protect contract and freelance workers, SB Nation (and its parent company Vox Media) cut about 200 contract positions, including many of those who cover the NBA, more specifically those living in CA, part-time for our brother and sister sites here at SB Nation NBA.
Simply put, it was handled very poorly by SB Nation management. Letting people know minutes before an announcement by the company (via Twitter) was made public that they were “let go”, and in some cases people had learned about their being let go by a simple, poorly timed, tweet.
The NetsDaily team stands in support of the super, super hard-working and extremely under-paid individuals who ran their communities in the same way that we do here - with love for the team, its fans, and their community. If no other reason than that. So, beyond money, beyond access, a lot of people lost in a second the ability to maintain that position within a community that they had spent a decade or more building, in some cases.
Others lost an outlet, something that kept them occupied after a long day at work. Sports! Right? The thing that is supposed to keep you at an arm’s length from “reality.” And yes, others lost a very meaningful source of income. And that’s shitty, too.
NetsDaily will continue to post and cover the team - because we love it - but we stand in solidarity with those California contractors because even as friends, colleagues, and strangers, they deserve protections to be compensated for the work they do and more importantly they deserve respect.
So while this doesn’t hit home for us - it might, one day.
Pooch has covered the team for seven seasons, going to about 95% of home games, starting as a college student - and not because we had much to offer other than a community. He works as hard as anyone else who gets paid full-time to cover this team.
Brian Fleurantin, Billy Reinhardt, Chris Milholen, Matt Brooks, the Glue Guys - all professionally covering the team, all who should be getting recognized and compensated fairly.
Bryan Fonseca and Dexter Henry, who no longer contribute but who both works their asses off and deserve to be recognized for it.
People who deserve better than this system gives them, and who don’t one day deserve to be treated like a “contractor.” It doesn’t “hit home” for us, but it sure feels like it.
I can only hope that readers respect and give credit to the bylines that you see on this and every one of the SB Nation blogs - whether you’re a fan of the team or not - because behind those bylines are people who just love doing this, not for the money (because there is none) but because they love their team and you, the community.
And that’s why we stand with them, and support them - and will continue to, in whatever way is asked of us.
So, with that - we want to share a fully-endorsed statement from the SB Nation NBA Blogger site managers.
SB NATION NBA BLOGGERS’ STATEMENT REGARDING RECENTLY ANNOUNCED CHANGES FOR CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
We are the bloggers. SB Nation calls us “Community Insiders.” Deadspin has referred to us as an “Army of Exploited Workers.” We call ourselves fans.
For almost 15 years, team site bloggers have been the passionate heartbeat of SB Nation. That heart skipped a beat when most of us learned along with the general public that Vox Media/SB Nation planned to terminate their independent contractor agreements with bloggers who live in California or work for California-based team sites.
These are our friends, colleagues, and peers. We are heartbroken that many of them will not be able to continue doing something they love because of this decision. While we acknowledge SB Nation was forced to make changes due to the recent passage of AB5 in California, which defines and limits the nature of independent contractor arrangements, we are deeply disappointed in how they chose to move forward and how they chose to announce these decisions.
These hard-working bloggers were not informed of their imminent termination prior to SB Nation’s public announcement on Monday, December 16. This, despite numerous efforts by SB Nation bloggers to discuss a path forward months ago when AB5 was passed. That is shameful--we should have been told of the planned changes months ago, ahead of the general public, and given a voice in how to best help our communities with these transitions.
We have built SB Nation through a late night recap after a game that goes into 2OT on the West Coast, by interacting with our fans through social media, comments, and watch parties, and by providing amazing journalism well above our pay grade. We are also your friends at work in the cubicle next to you reporting on breaking news on our lunch break, your classmate cramming for the test while also moderating a comment section, and the fan sitting next to you in the nosebleeds while providing in game updates.
We also build and curate communities which serve as vital online “homes” for so many sports fans. Our network not only stands to lose an immense amount of talented writers, creators, and managers, but vast reservoirs of institutional knowledge and the trust of our community members that can’t be replaced with just any employee. All of that work for limited compensation has generated huge value for SB Nation and its parent, Vox Media.
And make no mistake, there are alternatives. SB Nation could have offered full or part time employment to their current California site managers, while maintaining the independent contractor model for contributors on a lesser scale. The law permits this, but SB Nation decided, without consultation, to instead terminate all independent contractor contracts and with that, so many fantastic team sites with their own voice and loyal followings.
California bloggers and team brands deserve a lot more than a pat on the head and the opportunity to battle it out for a handful of jobs. The rest of us deserve the assurance that we won’t be the next ones to learn from a tweet that our contracts have been terminated.
We call on SB Nation to open an honest dialogue with us and our communities about these changes, and to give us a greater voice in any future decisions affecting the heart of our work and communities. We deserve at least that, and frankly we deserve a lot more.