Members of three New York Times bargaining units joined forces on Tuesday to deliver a message to management: Stop union busting. Respect our union.
Protesting outside the company’s office, Sarah Kobos said workers at Wirecutter, the Times-owned product review company, are ready to strike. The Wirecutter Union has organized a work stoppage set to begin on Black Friday and continue through Cyber Monday. They’re calling on supporters to honor their “digital picket line” and stop shopping through Wirecutter if a deal isn’t reached before then.
The Times is sitting on about $1 billion in cash but has offered Wirecutter staff guaranteed annual raises of just 0.5%, she said.
Bill Baker, chair of the 1,300-member New York Times Guild, said, “I’ve seen in my tenure the way our members have sacrificed when times were tough. The ways we all chipped in to help bring the Times back into financial success.
“How much success?” he asked. The crowd shouted with him, “$1 billion.”
But, he said, “Everywhere I look, the Times is fighting workers at this company.”
The collective bargaining agreement between the Times and the New York Times Guild expired in March, Baker noted, and workers had to “fight tooth and nail just to get management to agree to allow our members to observe our own negotiations over our own contract.”
Workers organized and won the right to have an unlimited number of observers, but they’re still fighting for a fair contract, a fair share of the company’s profits, Baker said. The New York Times Guild represents newsroom workers, business employees and others.
Kathy Zhang, a senior analytics manager for the home screen and Times Tech Guild organizing committee member, said “Management has fought us every step of the way.”
Times Tech Guild members announced their union campaign in April with strong majority support and asked management to recognize their union. Instead, management hired high-priced union-busting lawyers to thwart their efforts.
The Times Tech Guild includes engineers, analysts, designers, project managers, product managers, and assistants who work on the Times’ websites and mobile applications.
When they win union recognition, they will be the largest union of tech workers with bargaining rights in the country, Zhang said.
NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss said our movement is growing. In the last four years, The NewsGuild has grown by 32%, he said, and more than 2,100 workers have joined so far this year alone.
“Journalists are the light in the dark,” he said. “We are the unblinking eye watching over democracy.”
New York Times workers were joined by supporters from city labor unions, NewsGuild of New York units and CWA members.
“Every single person here who makes the Times what it is deserves representation,” said NewsGuild of New York President Susan DeCarava. “They deserve fair wages. They deserve a newsroom and workplace that is safe and healthy and strong and runs according to the values that we all represent.”