WGA East-Represented Gimlet & Parcast Employees Blast Parent Company Spotify In Wake Of Layoffs

WGA East-represented writers, editors and producers at Spotify’s Gimlet and Parcast podcasts are blasting their parent company for having created “chaos instead of treating employees with the dignity and respect they deserve” when it announced on Thursday that it would cancel 11 podcasts and eliminate about 5% of its podcast employees.

“Yesterday, Spotify blindsided both Gimlet Union and Parcast Union with at least 38 layoffs across their studios,” the bargaining units said in a joint statement. “Spotify has said in the press that these layoffs constitute less than 5% of people working on original podcasts. That number is misleading. The reality is that each bargaining unit, organized with the Writers Guild of America East, has lost about 30% of its members. These aren’t small cuts, they are massive restructurings.

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“Each shop has lost seasoned producers, writers, and editors. Many of those laid off were longtime employees – people who helped build our studios from the ground up, and who saw them through a global pandemic. Some were on parental leave. Others were in the middle of relocating. These employees left other jobs, other cities – other countries – to work at a company that told them repeatedly that their jobs would be secure. Most egregious is that in Parcast’s case, these layoffs directly impacted the majority of members in the union’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee, as well as the majority of the former organizing and bargaining committees.

“Yesterday Spotify told show teams that their podcasts were being canceled because of low numbers. But decisions Spotify leadership made directly contributed to those low numbers. Their decision to make most of Gimlet’s and Parcast’s shows Spotify exclusive caused a steep drop in listeners – as high as three quarters of the audience for some shows. Yet the company did little or nothing to staunch the bleeding. Shows languished without marketing support, and teams were not given clear audience goals to meet. The strongest indication these employees received that their shows were not meeting Spotify’s goals was when they were laid off yesterday. To contribute to the confusion, some of the employees who were laid off were working on popular shows, suggesting the cuts weren’t solely due to the reach and success of those programs. And yet, Spotify has failed to give any explanation for how they evaluated who would be let go.

“Spotify gave employees as little as an hour to close out their work, even though they needed to collect sources, tell guests that episodes weren’t airing, file expenses, download personal paperwork including paystubs, and finish putting out episodes. Spotify subscribers expecting to hear their favorite shows have been left in the lurch, with no explanation. The fact that Spotify chose to handle these cuts in this way shows their disregard for both their employees and their audience.

“It didn’t have to be this way. And Spotify can still take steps to help laid-off employees. It can start by allowing them to take their contacts, sources, and unfinished work with them.”

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