‘Fear and chaos’: Andrew Yang staffers are furious over sudden layoffs and a campaign near collapse

Andrew YangMatt Rourke/APAndrew Yang’s staff said they were blindsided by layoffs last week following a poor showing in Iowa. Many said they found out something was amiss when they suddenly lost their email accounts or heard about it from the rumor mill.Some staff said the layoffs were disproportionately affecting union members and that many had…

‘Fear and chaos’: Andrew Yang staffers are furious over sudden layoffs and a campaign near collapse

Andrew YangMatt Rourke/APAndrew Yang’s staff said they were blindsided by layoffs last week following a poor showing in Iowa. Many said they found out something was amiss when they suddenly lost their email accounts or heard about it from the rumor mill.Some staff said the layoffs were disproportionately affecting union members and that many had yet to receive their severance payment of about $400.”He talks about giving every American $1,000 a month but can’t give his own campaign staffers severance,” one source said. “It’s infuriating.”A spokesperson for the campaign said all employees who were laid off received a formal termination notice and would receive their severance pay in 48 hours.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.Andrew Yang built his long-shot candidacy into a grassroots movement by advocating for a humane capitalism that leaves no worker behind, but some of his employees now say that behind the scenes that’s exactly what his campaign just did.Last week his campaign began layoffs after his disastrous showing at the Iowa caucuses, moves that the campaign characterized to Insider at the time as planned. Still, Yang’s staff said they were blindsided by the sudden staff cuts.Many found out that something was amiss when they suddenly lost their email accounts and Slack messaging system; others learned they’d lost their job via the rumor mill, only to receive formal letters much later.”For a Democrat who is ‘all about the worker,’ he’s just talking the talk, no walking here,” one staffer said.”‘Humanity first’ but no transparency or honesty with the layoff, period. They gave zero warning and just starting deactivating people’s emails and Slack accounts. There is now a culture of fear across the entire campaign because of those layoffs.”The layoffs left the campaign staff feeling angry and confused, and many said the campaign squandered its momentum by creating a disorganized and unfair culture.Four current and former Yang campaign staffers at varying levels of seniority told Insider that the layoffs were just the tip of the iceberg of a campaign culture characterized by disorganization and a “lack of transparency.” All spoke with Insider on the condition of anonymity because they said they were being bound by nondisclosure agreements in some cases and feared retribution from the campaign.After a meteoric rise for an unknown candidate, Yang was brought back down to earth by Iowa, where he received fewer than 1,800 votes in the caucuses, earning just 1% of the statewide vote, 1% of state delegate equivalents, and zero pledged delegates that count toward the convention.All sources confirmed earlier reporting from Politico that a series of missteps and miscommunications between the national- and state-level campaign operations had resulted in some Yang staffers finding out they had been laid off through word of mouth or by having their accounts suddenly deactivated and only receiving formal termination letters after the fact.Staffers told Insider that as many as 100 campaign employees lost their jobs, but the campaign declined to confirm how many were laid off, saying only that the specific number told to Insider was “inaccurate.”In a statement to Insider on Monday, Yang campaign chief Nick Ryan said: “Andrew and the campaign are tremendously grateful for the efforts of all of our staff. The success of this movement would not have been possible if not for this dedicated and talented group. The decisions we made last week were not easy nor taken lightly.”Three sources said that, in one state, the campaign either laid off or re-deployed all the office’s representatives of the Campaign Worker’s Guild, the union representing Yang organizers, in what they characterized as retaliatory layoffs.¬†One staffer described the campaign’s attitude toward the union as “completely disrespectful,” saying the campaign declined to negotiate on some points, including severance, and appeared to be “kicking the can down the road” to avoid negotiating before the campaign’s end.Yang’s national press secretary, SY Lee, told Insider that the union had rebuffed the campaign’s efforts to negotiate.”We had been working with the CWG for weeks to come to a resolution as quickly as possible,” Lee said. “Our legal team received a memorandum of understanding over the weekend before the Iowa caucuses from some members of the CWG and was not provided sufficient time to review it. However, despite our repeated attempts to negotiate with these select individuals, we were rebuffed with no reason given.”Lee said all employees laid off received a formal termination notice and would receive their severance pay within 48 hours of the press secretary’s email to Insider on Monday afternoon.Two sources told Insider that in addition to the layoffs affecting union representatives, staffers with friends in campaign headquarters or on the national staff team wer
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