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New York Times Parent Company Interfered With Union Efforts, Labor Board Says

Tech workers were forbidden from sharing pro-union imagery, the National Labor Relations Board said.

A view of The New York Times headquarters on August 8, 2020.

The parent company of The New York Times has illegally restricted its tech employees from promoting unionization efforts, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently alleged.

In a complaint filed to an administrative court, the NLRB said that The New York Times Company “has been interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” under federal labor laws.

The complaint, which was filed by the Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild (TNG-CWA) last June, alleges that the company violated federal labor laws and protections by ordering its employees not to share images demonstrating support of unionizing tech workers. NLRB officials agreed with this assertion late in December, and have forwarded the complaint to the administrative court, where it will be heard in March of this year.

Among a number of complaints made by TNG-CWA, the union alleged that the company refused to allow tech workers to use pro-union images as their avatars in chat groups and restricted the sharing of pro-union imagery within other internal online services. In an attempt to justify its actions, The New York Times Co. wrongly claimed that these workers were technically managers because they oversaw interns.

The company still maintains that it hasn’t done anything wrong.

“We strongly disagree with the union’s allegations about the supervisory status of certain technology employees and welcome the opportunity to explain our position to the board,” company spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement.

If the administrative court agrees with the NLRB in March, the effect of their decision would be minimal. At most, the judges can order the company to change its policies and allow for such images to be shared among employees, regardless of whether tech workers oversee interns or not. The judges can take very few punitive actions against the company, if any, unless the company ignores the judges’ orders later on.

Still, it’s revealing that The New York Times Co. is refusing to abide by labor laws and attempting to quell union promotion among its tech workers.

As the New York Times Tech Guild noted on Twitter, the NLRB offered the company a settlement option that would allow all parties involved to avoid a trial later this year; this option would simply require the company to post “a notice with the promise not to break the law again.”

“Management has refused this option, opting to spend more money on legal fees to fight the decision rather than posting this straightforward notice,” the New York Times Tech Guild said in its post.

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