Sports Illustrated management still faces resentment over layoffs

The NewsGuild said Sports Illustrated’s management at the Maven agreed to voluntarily recognize the union — but there is still resentment within the editorial ranks over the recent downsizing that was further stoked by the April 10 firing of veteran soccer writer Grant Wahl.

That suggests negotiations could be tense.

“We are please[d] that Maven has put an end to its delay tactics and recognized the SI Union, which formed in January with support from more than 90 percent of the staff,” the union tweeted.

“While recognition is a step forward for our membership, Maven has yet to remedy a number of its hostile actions toward SI employees. Our former colleague, Grant Wahl, smeared by [Maven CEO] James Heckman, is owed an apology for the attempt to damage his reputation.”

Wahl, one of the preeminent soccer journalists in the country, was making more than $350,000 a year when he was hit with a 30-percent pay cut as part of cost cuts last month.

The company later issued a statement saying it had fired a writer who had publicly complained about the pay cuts, only identifying him as a someone who “was making over $350,000 a year.” The company branded him an ingrate and said it would use the money they would have paid him to enhance severance for some of the laid-off employees.

Wahl on social media identified himself as the fired writer. He insisted he had no beef with taking the pay cut during the pandemic, but objected that management wanted to make it permanent in a new contract that it was trying to force him to sign.

The union also said it will “call for the company to improve severance for the employees it laid off unilaterally last month while stalling on recognition.”