New York, NY – The old Gray Lady is a union-buster and New York City’s 1.3 labor union members aren’t gonna let her get away with it.
That’s the message New York City Central Labor Council [NYCCLC] President Vinny Alvarez delivered outside the 8th Avenue and 40th Street entrance to the New York Times building on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
Three groups of workers at the New York Times — Wirecutter employees, Times Guild members and New York Times tech workers — are all fighting management for either simple union recognition or an equitable contract with fair wages.
But instead of coming to the bargaining table in good faith, and it accordance with its own progressive pronouncements, workers charge Times management with subjecting them to gross intimidation, coercion, misinformation and delays.
Or, as data analyst and New York Times Tech Guild organizer Kathy Zhang puts it at this week’s union rally, “The New York Times’ anti-union campaign has been in full swing for months.”
“All of these things would unacceptable anywhere in the world and in any place — but to see an organization like the New York Times, who stands up and says it is a progressive organization in the town that supports workers rights, is outrageous,” a fired up Alvarez said. “We know that the Times are being bad actors and they’re anti-worker right now. We will be paying close attention to this struggle as it continues to play out. Are they going to do the right thing, or are they going to continue to do the wrong thing?”
Tim Dubnau, CWA District 1 organizing director, blasted the “hypocrisy of the New York Times.”
“The Times claims not to be anti-union, but what we read from the editorial pages of the paper stands in contrast to the union-busing that goes on inside this building,” he said. “The New York Times can spend as much as it wants on incompetent, high-priced union-busters delaying elections, stalling bargaining — but we will win when we stick together. Just ask the brave CWA healthcare workers in Buffalo, New York who just now came off a 35-day militant strike at Catholic Health to win unprecedented gains for patients and workers.”
Wirecutter, the Times’ popular consumer product review operation, is credited with helping the Gray Lady offset losses sustained during the coronavirus pandemic. The 67 employees who work for Wirecutter say the still wildly wealthy New York Times is sitting on more than a billion dollars in profits, but refuses to re-invest in the workforce.
“We are asking for $300,000 of that [money] to raise the salary floors across 67 people,” Wirecutter Senior Photo Editor Sarah Kobos said. “To put that another way, we’re asking for 0.029-percent of the money the Times is merely sitting on.”
A supermajority of Wirecutter staffers has already voted to strike between Black Friday and Cyber Monday if they don’t get a fair contract. Those interested in supporting the strike can pledge their support here.
Times management is pushing back against union-busting charges. A spokesperson for the company sent an email to LaborPress saying that Times management is “actively working” with employees to resolve the standoff.
“The New York Times has a long history of productive relationships with unions to advance our shared objectives,” the Times spokesperson said. “We’re actively working with The New York Times NewsGuild and the Wirecutter Union to put in place collective bargaining agreements that fairly reward our employees for their work and contributions to The Times’s success, and we look forward to continuing those negotiations at the bargaining table.
We support the right of all eligible employees to decide whether or not joining a union is right for them, and we will respect the outcome of the National Labor Relations Board process.”
Workers have filed unfair labor practices charges at the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB]. According to Zhang, they’ve stuck.
“Senior leadership is so dedicated to its anti-union campaign that just this morning, the National Labor Relations Board informed the company that they broke the law,”’ she said on Tuesday. “The government just determined that the New York Times has been engaging in illegal union-busting to intimidate our colleagues.”
Dabnau said that all “150,000 members of CWA District 1 stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our union siblings” at the Times.
Alvarez pledged the NYCCLC’s support as well.
“We will make sure that all of our unions throughout this city, and everybody we come in contact with, knows about what is taking place in this struggle and in this fight,” he said. “I promise you that all of the union members — all 1.3 million union members in the city and the workers we stand side-by-side with throughout the city, and the advocates, and so many others that support this strike — I promise you, they will know that it is taking place and we will make sure we stand together with you in this fight.”