The New York Times reminds us: good liberals often oppose unions | Hamilton nolan
OOne of the most useful qualities of unions is their ability to force good liberals to actually demonstrate their principles in a tangible way. It’s easy for a self-proclaimed progressive business owner to say all the right things about how he believes in equality, fair wages and workers’ rights – but when their employees unionize and come to the fore. Claim these rights, these nice bosses have to stop saying how nice they are and prove it. For limo liberals, dealing with unions is where the rubber hits the road.
Needless to say, many good liberals turn out to be charlatans. There is a saying in the union world: “A boss is a boss. It’s a more concise way of saying, “A boss is kind of a greedy moron, no matter how many ‘Still She Persisted’ stickers they stuck on their Volvos.
The New York Times is one of the most vital totems of mainstream liberalism in America, with expensive coffee and defensive explanations for sending your kids to private school. Turns out, The New York Times is also one of America’s best examples of how a boss is a boss. For even as the newspaper pontificates about the dangers of inequality and benevolently covers major union campaigns, company executives are actively trying to undermine their own unions.
Last April, 650 technical workers at the New York Times announced they were unionizing. Rather than applaud them and proceed to negotiate a contract, the company instead refused to voluntarily recognize the union. It is despite its own editorial board backing a bill that would have made it legally binding for employers to voluntarily accept union demands when they are supported by a majority of the workforce.
As the newspaper’s own editorial explained: “Under current law, an employer can reject majority signatures and demand a secret ballot. But in a surprisingly high number of cases, the employer is using the time leading up to the vote to pressure employees to rethink their decision to unionize. This is what the New York Times company is accused of doing to its own employees.
Since last year, The Times has been accused of attempting to scare workers to change their mind – to sow division among employees, to divide the unit and to erode support for organized labor. Last week, federal labor regulators claims that the company had broken the law by telling a large number of employees that they were in fact “managers”, and that they were therefore prohibited from publicly supporting the union. (A hearing is scheduled for March. A Times spokesperson said he “strongly disagrees” with the union’s allegations.)
If you find this kind of New York Times anti-union behavior surprising, remember that another unit of union workers at the newspaper, those who worked for the Wirecutter product review section, had to continue. to hit during the busy Black Friday shopping weekend to get a minimally fair deal. So while most of The Times editorial staff have been unionized for decades, the company still shows a strong commitment to doing everything possible to prevent another of its employees from getting the same guy. advantages.
I do not want to get lost here in the details of labor regulations and lose sight of the big picture. That is to say this: The New York Times Company, which makes its money by promoting itself as the main defender of American liberal values, is fighting against its own workers who defend their right to organize a union and to bargain collectively. .
To me, that makes The New York Times an anti-union company. I can say it without scruple. Companies that are not anti-union members will honor a formal request from their employees for voluntary union recognition; they will negotiate fair contracts that include pay equity for all; and they certainly won’t launch internal messaging campaigns to try to convince their employees that unionization is a bad idea.
The New York Times has been doing all of these things just recently. This means that he can stand proudly alongside his dishonorable peers across corporate America in this regard. While its editors editorialize against the deep political and economic issues plaguing our country, its management is integral to those issues.
The New York Times gets away with a lot. They are the journalistic equivalent of the Supreme Court. They offer prestige, big budgets and job stability at a time when these things are rare in this industry. Half of our country terrified of Trump sees them as an army of truth, and everyone in the media wants to work on them. (Call me!) But let’s be honest: the people who control the New York Times are acting like real bullies.
It’s not just that they’re hypocrites, babbling about the public good while acting out of sheer selfishness – it’s that they want to have it both ways. While more evil media bosses like Rupert Murdoch may be proud to embrace their reputation as Ayn Randian, those who run The Times want to be accepted as good people on the Brooklyn-brownstone cocktail circuit, even if they quietly trying to stop those who are working. for them to have an equal place at their tastefully furnished table. Screw that.
I have covered hundreds of anti-union campaigns. No matter where they occur, they are all based on lies and fear. Whether they happen in an Amazon warehouse or in the New York Times, they are a display of contempt for the idea that an employee can deserve to be treated as someone whose humanity is just as real as that of an employer.
Respectable people do not engage in the fight against unions. People who run anti-union campaigns are not good liberals. Hundreds of workers raising their voices were not enough to convince New York Times executives to do the right thing. Maybe it’s time to stop inviting them to cocktails.