New York Times Tech Workers Win Union Vote by a Landslide

Tech workers for the New York Times have voted overwhelmingly to form a union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined on Thursday night.

The union won 404 to 88, with 80 percent of voters in favor. Representing about 600 software engineers, data analysts, and other tech workers, the New York Times Tech Guild is the largest tech union that has been recognized by the NLRB in the U.S.

“Now that our union is officially certified, we are ready to begin the work of building a better workplace alongside [New York Times Guild] and [Wirecutter Union],” the Times Tech Guild wrote on Twitter. “We look forward to realizing the full potential of our [Times Tech Guild] mission.”

Workers faced a union-busting campaign from the New York Times Company, which refused to voluntarily acknowledge the union when workers asked the company to do so last year.

Last month, leaked messages revealed that CEO Meredith Kopit Levien sent a memo to employees discouraging the workers from unionizing. She insisted that she’s not anti-union in general – just anti-union for the company’s tech unit, known as XFun. “This is an unproven experiment with permanent consequences,” Kopit Levien warned. Other managers sent workers messages on Slack encouraging them to vote “no.”

The company has also shown hostility to other unionized workers within the company. Wirecutter workers waged a strike last year in part because the company had refused to guarantee raises that would keep up with inflation, which would essentially be a pay cut. Workers eventually reached a deal that would give workers a 3 percent raise each year.

Management has illegally punished workers unionized with NewsGuild by excluding them from being able to take Indigenous People’s Day, Veterans Day and Juneteenth as paid holidays, the union alleged in a complaint filed with the NLRB in January. The Times Tech Guild also pointed out that, last year, the company announced a new policy allowing non-union parents 20 weeks of paid leave.

Earlier this year, the NLRB alleged that New York Times managers violated federal labor laws by telling employees that they couldn’t publicly voice their support for their tech colleagues. The company has denied these allegations.

Tech workers and labor leaders celebrated the victory. “We’re just elated and really soaking in what this means, not only for us as tech workers at The Times and for The New York Times but also for the tech industry as a whole,” Nozlee Samadzadeh, a senior software engineer, told The New York Times.

“I think this is going to be the start of a wave of organizing in the tech industry,” Samadzadeh said. Workers at Google have formed a union, but have not filed for recognition from the NLRB, meaning that the company isn’t obligated to negotiate a contract with workers. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 3.7 percent of workers in computer and mathematical related jobs are unionized.

Workers now look forward to bargaining for provisions “similar to what the newsroom unit has been fighting for — issues around pay, diversity and equity, a strong contract to make our workplace more fair,” Samadzadeh said.