The New York Times reminds us that good liberals are often against unions | Hamilton Nolan
ÃOne of the most useful qualities of trade 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 nice things about how they believe in equality and fair wages and workers’ rights – but when their employees unionize and come to themselves claim those rights, these nice bosses have to stop talking about how nice they are and prove it. For sedan liberals, dealing with unions is where the rubber hits the streets.
Needless to say, many good liberals turn out to be charlatans. There is a saying in the trade union world: “A boss is a boss”. That’s a more succinct way of saying, “A boss is a greedy idiot, no matter how many ‘Still She Stubborn’ bumper stickers they put on their Volvos.”
The New York Times is one of the main totems of mainstream liberalism in America, with expensive coffee and defensive statements for sending your kids to private school. The New York Times, it turns out, is also one of America’s finest examples of how a boss is a boss. For while the newspaper poses about the dangers of inequality and benevolently discusses major trade union movements, the company’s senior executives are eager to undermine their own unions.
Last April, 650 tech workers announced to the New York Times that they were unionizing. Instead of applauding them and negotiating a contract, the company instead refused to voluntarily recognize the union. This is despite its own editorial team Supported a bill that would have made it legally binding for employers to voluntarily accept union proposals if supported by a majority of the workforce.
As the newspaper’s own editorial stated: âUnder current law, an employer can refuse the signatures of the majority and insist on a secret ballot. But in a worryingly high number of cases the employer is using the pre-vote period to put pressure on workers to reconsider their union decision. âWell, this is exactly what the New York Times company is accused of doing to its own employees .
Since last year, the Times has been charged with trying scare Workers to change their minds – to sow division among white-collar workers, divide unity, and undermine support for organized labor. Last week, federal labor inspectorates asserts that the company has broken the law by telling large crowds of employees that they are, in fact, “managers” and that they are therefore prohibited from publicly endorsing the union. (A hearing is scheduled for this March. A Times spokesman said they âstrongly disagreeâ with the union’s allegations.)
If you find this anti-union behavior from the New York Times surprising, remember that another unit of unionized workers from the newspaper who worked for the Wirecutter product rating division had to move on hit during the busy Black Friday shopping weekend to secure a minimally fair deal. So while most of the Times editorial staff has been unionized for decades, the company is still determined to do whatever it takes to prevent more of its employees from getting the same benefits.
I don’t want to get caught up in labor law details and lose sight of the big picture. Here’s how: The New York Times Company, which makes its living branding itself as the main defender of American liberal values, is fighting its own workers who are enforcing their right to unionize and bargain collectively.
That makes the New York Times an anti-union company for me. I can say that without hesitation. Company that not Anti-union will comply with a formal request from their employees for voluntary union recognition; they will negotiate fair contracts that include equal pay for all; and they certainly won’t run internal messaging campaigns to convince their employees that unions are a bad idea.
The New York Times did all of these things recently. This means it can proudly stand up to its dishonorable counterparts across America in this regard. While its authors write against the profound political and economic problems that plague our country, its management is an integral part of those problems.
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 those things are scarce in this industry. The Trump-scared half of our country sees it as an army of truth, and everyone in the media wants to work there. (Call me!) But let’s face it: the people who control the New York Times act like real weasels.
They are not only hypocritical, whine about the common good and act out of pure selfishness – they want both. While outwardly nasty media bosses like Rupert Murdoch may pride themselves on appreciating their reputation as Ayn Randian, those who run the Times want to be accepted as good people at the Brooklyn brownstone cocktail party, even if they quietly try to stop those to prevent those who work from sitting equally at their tastefully laid table. Screw that.
I have reported on hundreds of anti-union campaigns. No matter where they happen, they are all based on lies and fear. Whether they happen at an Amazon warehouse or at the New York Times, they are a display of contempt for the notion that an employee deserves to be treated as someone whose humanity is as real as that of an employer.
Decent people do not participate in union destruction. Anti-union campaigners are not good liberals. Hundreds of workers who raised their voices were not enough to convince the New York Times executives to do the right thing. Maybe it’s time to stop inviting them to cocktail parties.