A comic dispute between labor unions advocates and satirical Barstool Sports head Dave Portnoy vowing to ‘crush’ them took a serious turn when AFL-CIO and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got involved.
It all began on Monday, when Portnoy made a snarky comment about another media company wanting to unionize and linked to his 2015 rant daring his employees to unionize “just so I can smash their little union to smithereens.”
A Live Science writer took him seriously, offering “a private chat” to Barstool employees who wished to unionize and “leverage that power to make your life better.”
Portnoy countered that anyone who dared to do so would be fired “on the spot.”
When a lawyer offered to represent the employees pro bono, Portnoy said he would fire anyone who does so immediately, and sue them for damages and back wages.
The biggest fish the troll bait reeled in was the AFL-CIO association of labor unions, which literally made a federal case out of it, saying the National Labor Relations Act prohibits bosses from interfering in the establishment of unions.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) also got involved on Tuesday afternoon, arguing on Twitter that Portnoy’s statements amounted to an illegal threat under the NLRA.
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
Portnoy’s response? “Welcome to thunderdome. Debate me.”
If it wasn’t clear by that point that everyone getting worked up over the issue was being trolled, the Barstool president offered another hint.
“If all the people in my mentions would spend more time working and less time tweeting you would be rich and powerful like me and wouldn’t need your blogging unions to protect you,” he tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.
If all the people in my mentions would spend more time working and less time tweeting you would be rich and powerful like me and wouldn’t need your blogging unions to protect you.
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 13, 2019
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