New York Times Tells Tech Workers to Put Union Effort to a Vote

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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 Times Tech Guild, a group affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York, had asked the company for recognition on April 13, when it announced that a majority of tech workers had formed a union. The group includes software engineers, data analysts, designers and product managers.

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.

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.”

The NewsGuild represents editorial employees at The Times and at Wirecutter, the company’s product review website. The Times voluntarily recognized the Wirecutter union in 2019.

If an employer does not voluntarily recognize a union, the National Labor Relations Board may hold an election. If a majority votes in favor, the union can start negotiations with management.

A Times spokeswoman said in a statement that the company had a long history of productive relationships with unions and with nonunion employees.

“We respect and support the right of all employees to decide through an election whether or not joining a union is right for them,” the spokeswoman said.

The union effort at The Times is notable for the size of the group, with more than 650 workers. In recent years, workers at Vice, Slate, Vox and BuzzFeed and other news media organizations have formed unions. On Monday, journalists at Insider, formerly known as Business Insider, became the latest to join the wave.

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