In the middle of a union election, over 600 tech workers are at The New York TimesLeaked documents reveal that management at the publication are using union-busting tactics to stop the effort. the Guardian found.
In leaked Slack messages, leaflets and at least one memo, company leadership discouraged workers within the New York Times Company’s tech guild (known as XFun) from voting for union representation. Ballots for this election, which began on January 24, must be returned by February 28.
Last month, New York Times Company CEO Meredith Kopit Levien sent a memo to employees entitled “Why a Tech Union Isn’t Right for Us,” The Guardian’s Michael Sainato found. “In short, we don’t believe unionizing in XFun is the right move. But that’s not because I’m anti-union,” Kopit Levien wrote, echoing languageOther companies that claim to be pro-union but engage in anti-union activities.
Kopit Levien referred to the recent negotiations with WirecutterThe Times’s product recommendation and review section. “It took Wirecutter two years to reach an agreement with the NewsGuild,” she wrote, adding that the negotiation process caused “uncertainty and discord to negotiate terms that were largely in line with what they and their non-union colleagues already had in place.”
She went on to say that a union would erode the relationship between the company and its employees – again, a common union buster’s refrain – and said that the union would make it harder for the company to reach diversity, equity and inclusion goals. “This is an unproven experiment with permanent consequences,” she warned.
The Guardian also found that chief product officer Alexandra Hardiman and chief growth officer Hannah Yang sent messages on Slack encouraging workers to vote “no” in the election. “A union is not a silver bullet,” said Hardiman. “It will introduce another layer into our process that we believe will make it harder to work – and achieve – together.”
Raising Wirecutter’s case as a warning against unionization is ironic; contract negotiations for WirecutterWorkers took only as long as they could. the union said, because the company’s management had offered extremely scant proposals and refused to capitulate to workers’ demands. Before the workers went on strike for Black Friday last year, for instance, the company had offered guaranteed raises of only 0.5 percent – less than annual average inflation rates. The union claims that the company withheld wages from striking employees as a retaliation to the strike.
Unionized workers also claimed that the company offers non-union members better benefits as an anti-union tactic. NewsGuild published this article just before the election. filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Times company for saying that only non-union employees would get Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Veterans Day and Juneteenth as paid holidays. The Times denied that this was true.
The company has also withheldUnion members get parental leave. The company announced last summer that it would offer non-union members 20 week leave for new parents. at the timeAmanda Hess, Vice President of NewsGuild of New York New York TimesWriter, stated that she had been fighting for this policy during negotiations. The union pressured the company into changing the policy to include union workers.
“Last week, [New York Times]Leadership announced additional paid holidays that were only available to non-union employees. We’ve seen this anti-union tactic before when the company rolled out enhanced family leave,” wroteThe New York Times Tech Guild is on Twitter. “We didn’t fall for it then, and we won’t fall for it now. [Meredith Kopit Levien], stop using our colleagues as bargaining chips.”
Recently, unionizing workers gained the support a group of investors who represent over $1 trillion in assets under management, who sent a letter to Times management on Tuesday expressing concern over the company’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the union, forcing it to go through an election that the company is tampering with.
“Rather than accept the union’s request to be voluntarily recognized, it appears the Company is using the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) process to aggressively limit the size and scope of the union and to delay a vote for months in order to conduct an ongoing series of anti-union meetings,” the investors wrote. “These tactics suggest that the Company is not operating in a neutral or good faith manner to have a free and fair election, but is instead seeking to weaken the union as much as possible.”