New York Times loses bid to block union election for tech workers

3 minute read

The New York Times building in New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/

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  • NLRB official rejected claims that bargaining unit was improper
  • Mail-in ballots will be tallied by March 7
  • Would be largest tech-worker union in U.S.

(Reuters) - A U.S. labor official on Wednesday ordered a union election for more than 600 tech employees at The New York Times Co, as the company faces claims that it unlawfully interfered with labor organizing.

A National Labor Relations Board regional director in New York rejected the Times' claims that the union's proposed bargaining unit improperly included distinct groups of employees with different working conditions, and ordered a mail-in election to be held. Ballots will be mailed to workers on Jan. 24 and tallied by March 7.

If the tech workers vote to join the NewsGuild of New York, which already represents other Times employees, they would form the largest bargaining unit of tech workers in the U.S., the union said on Wednesday. The News Guild is an affiliate of Communication Workers of America.

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The union's president, Susan DeCarava, said in a statement that Wednesday's decision was a rebuke to the Times "needlessly attempting to union bust."

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said the company disagreed with the decision but would now focus on ensuring a fair election.

"We continue to believe that the company and our digital product development and tech colleagues will accomplish our shared goals faster and more effectively by working together directly, without a union," she said.

The company had argued that the proposed unit was inappropriate because it includes employees with five distinct job functions, and should include only about 360 product engineering workers. The company also said many of the workers in the proposed unit are managers or supervisors who are barred from joining unions.

NLRB regional director John Walsh on Wednesday said the Times was precluded from pursuing both of those arguments because it had not provided enough information about the employees' working conditions.

The decision came two weeks after the NLRB general counsel issued a complaint accusing the Times of unfair labor practices in connection with the union campaign.

According to the complaint, management during a virtual meeting in May told some employees they were barred from showing union support while acting as supervisors of interns, and has continued to maintain that rule.

The Times last week said it disagreed with the allegations. A hearing will be held before an administrative judge in March.

The case is New York Times Co, National Labor Relations Board, Region 2, No. 02-RC-280769.

For the Times: Mark Theodore of Proskauer Rose

For the union: Benjamin Dictor of Eisner Dictor & Lamadrid

Read more:

New York Times interfered with union activism, U.S. labor agency alleges

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Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.