In the past few weeks, tech workers at the New York Times and a massive unit of editorial employees at Insider have formed unions. The Times tech workers, who are seeking similar protections that their editorial colleagues enjoy through the News Guild of New York, said they have majority support among their 650 or so members. Insider, meanwhile, has overwhelming support: 83 percent of their over 300-person unit have signed cards in favor of organizing.
And yet! Here’s this (from the Times):
The New York Times Company said on Thursday that it would not voluntarily recognize a newly formed union of tech and digital employees, instructing the group to put the matter to a formal vote through the National Labor Relations Board.
The first days of spring are always nice. The weather changes, the trees start absolutely shitting pollen from their dumptruck-ass flowers, and gigantic media corporations decide to try to make a run at busting nascent union efforts before they hit the end of Q3 layoff season in August. Look at that!
Here’s more context from the Times story (which, incidentally, was the first place that the tech workers learned that their bosses were going to try to bust their union):
In an email to staff on Thursday, the Times chief executive, Meredith Kopit Levien, wrote that, since the union was formed, “we have heard questions and concerns from many of our colleagues about what this would really mean for their careers.”
“As a result, this morning, we advised the NewsGuild that we believe the right next step is a democratic process that surfaces all the facts, answers questions from employees and managers, and then lets employees decide via an election,” the note continued.
Hmmm. Let’s decode this. Times management is probably thinking one of two things: that the union’s majority is slim enough that they can successfully bust it, or that they want to put off actually giving those workers a fair contract for as long as possible by making them schedule and whip votes for an NLRB election. Both of these options are shitty, which the Times guild pointed out.
A NewsGuild spokesman said in a statement that The Times’s decision not to voluntarily recognize the union was “deeply disappointing” and “a sign of disrespect” to the company’s 1,400 union members.
“We call on The New York Times to listen to their tech workers, the majority of whom have already voted via a signed union card,” the spokesman said. “We expected better.”
Representatives for the News Guild did not respond to a request for additional comment on either Insider or the Times Tech Union.
Over at Insider, it’s almost certainly the latter option. Insider’s organizing committee got a whopping 81 percent of their unit to sign cards before they even went public, and that number is up to 83 percent today. It’s clear that Henry Blodget and his crack management team are stalling for time while they see what they can do to weaken the union’s position. They almost certainly will not win an election, and it would be easier on everyone involved to voluntarily recognize the unit and start bargaining, but no. Here we are. Most bosses have never met a union they won’t try to bust, no matter how big its unit is. The only real question now is which amoral law firm they’ll hire.