Walkout at the NY Times
After months of union-busting, tech workers are holding a half day walkout
On Wednesday, tech workers at the New York Times held a half-a-day walkout to protest the company’s actions to hinder their union efforts. The workers filed for an NLRB election on July 30th after the company refused to voluntarily recognize their union.
The plan to hold a walkout came about on Monday when employees found out that the Times management was going to attempt to exclude staff like data analysts and designers from the bargaining unit. To do this the Times would have to argue before the NLRB that these workers didn’t meet the criteria to be in the bargaining unit and eligible to vote in the union election. The union hopes to have a bargaining unit of about 600 people, but the company wants to limit it to just software engineers which would reduce the unit’s size by a third.
While reporters have been organized for a long time, as have the people who print the paper, the tech workers at the New York Times are growing ever more important as the news agency switches away from a physical newspaper and turns into a news site.
The tech workers announced their interest in joining the NewsGuild of New York back in April. The union, which represents about 1,300 New York Times editorial and business employees, says that 70% of the tech workers have signed a petition saying they will vote for the union. It is unclear if this means that 70% of them have signed union cards or have just said they will vote yes.
Even though the newspaper has a long history of working with unions and is known as one of the national leaders in the Progressive and liberal movement, the Newsguild has been forced to file numerous unfair labor practice charges against the company. This includes interrogating workers about their activism which is illegal under the NLRA. In April, Times Chief Executive Officer Meredith Kopit Levien declined the employees’ request to voluntarily recognize their new Times Tech Guild, saying management believes “the right next step” is an election.
“I feel continually let down by the company,” said Times software engineer Vicki Crosson, a member of the organizing committee to Bloomberg. “They put themselves forward as sort of a liberal bastion in media. To see them be hypocritical about this is really frustrating.”
In a statement on Twitter, the New York Times Tech Worker Guild said “As tech workers, we create the tools that power the NY Times. We work together, build together, and are ready to vote yes for our union. If management insists on engaging in Unfair Labor Practices and dividing us, we will have no choice but to walk out together tomorrow at noon. The union united will never be defeated!”