Ringer staffers say Bill Simmons hired celeb podcast hosts to sink union

By , Audacy

Bill Simmons' media empire is reportedly beset by internal turmoil.

Staff employees at The Ringer, the Spotify-owned media outlet founded by the former star ESPN columnist, are said to be unhappy over Simmons' apparent anti-union sentiments and his recent knack for hiring celebrity talent.

Some of the staffers feel like Simmons never warmed to the union when it was first announced in 2019, and he even apparently took the petty step of unfollowing writers on social media who supported it, according to the New York Times.

The unfollows were seen as embarrassing and costly, since retweets to Simmons' millions of followers could make or break an article's success in terms of traffic.

The Ringer has moved aggressively to add a series of athletes, entertainers and media personalities as hosts on its portfolio of podcasts, the article said, which employees say was done intentionally to undermine and weaken the union, since independent contributors are not eligible to join.

The workers are also fearful that the household names will drown out their chances for development and advancement, which were already hard to come by.

Staffers say the change in strategy was part of a calculated plan to farm out as much content as possible to contractors.

Several notable homegrown personalities have left over their concerns in recent months, the report said.

The Ringer formally recognized the union when it announced its formation, but talks over a potential collective bargaining agreement have "stalled," according to the Times -- mostly because of contractors.

Among Simmons' decisions that irked staffers was his resistance to allowing podcast host Ryen Russillo to join the union.

Russillo and Simmons later came under scrutiny for a decidedly "both sides" assessment of nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's death on Russillo's podcast.

Simmons later apologized, saying they had "misread the moment."

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