Outfest Union Calls for Resignation of Copresidents After ‘Mismanagement,’ ‘Failure of Leadership’

Former Outfest members on Monday called for the immediate resignation of board copresidents Bil Bertini and Nii-Quartelai Quartey due to their “failure of leadership throughout the events of the last two months.”

Staffers announced their unanimous decision to unionize with all union-eligible staff on Sept. 26. Two days later, several staffers were laid off, although the Board denied that the layoffs were because of the unionization efforts.

The remaining employees voted to join Queer Filmworkers United shortly after, but a month later, a mass email was sent announcing the immediate layoffs of all remaining staff, QFU’s statement says.

“Queer Filmworkers United is officially calling for the resignation of Outfest Board Co-Presidents Bil Bertini and Nii-Quartelai Quartey due to rampant mismanagement and the abysmal treatment of workers over the last year which has resulted in the layoff of all Outfest staff,” the statement released on Monday began.

“Three times over the last two months, the Outfest Board decided to lay off or put staff on unpaid leave with unacceptably late notice and complete disregard for their livelihoods. Staff were laid off in dangerously short proximity to when the organization cut off their healthcare, and no severance pay was offered in return for their hard work… [causing] “extreme financial hardship,” the statement continued.

The statement went on to allege that Bertini and Quartey are “both responsible for the reckless manner in which the Board laid off the entire staff with total disregard for their wellbeing,” citing the mass email on Oct. 27 that was addressed impersonally to “Dear Outfest Staff Member.”

They also write, “since the sudden mass layoffs, the Board has cut off all communication with our union… These actions go against the mission of our organization and do not reflect the spirit of care that Outfest must embody if it is to succeed,” the statement continued.

“Please, join us in urging these bad actors to step aside so we can get Outfest back on track. We are fighting for the very future of Outfest and that future is only possible with its staff,” the statement concluded.

TheWrap has contacted Outfest for a response.

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