Tech workers at The New York Times announced on Tuesday that they had formed a union and would ask the company to recognize it.
The group, a majority of which signed cards in support of the effort, of more than 650 employees includes software engineers, designers, data analysts and product managers. It will be represented by the NewsGuild of New York. NewsGuild membership already includes more than 1,300 newsroom workers and business staff members at The Times, as well as workers at other media outlets.
As part of the Times Tech Guild, the tech workers would be in a separate bargaining unit from other Times employees represented by the NewsGuild.
In recent years, The Times has ramped up its hiring of tech workers as part of its strategy to reach 10 million paid digital subscribers by 2025. In 2020, digital-only subscriptions neared seven million and became the company’s largest revenue stream.
Kathy Zhang, a senior analytics manager and a member of the organizing committee, said in an interview that The Times felt like “an emerging company” in some ways, although it is a 170-year-old institution.
“There’s a lot of stuff we’re trying out,” she said. “There’s a lot of starting and stopping of different projects. It’s been really exciting, but it’s also been pretty exhausting.”
The tech workers were concerned about pay equity, health care costs, job security and career advancement, Ms. Zhang added. The union also hoped to improve diversity and inclusion in the department.
The New York Times Company can decide to voluntarily recognize the union, as it did with a union at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by the company, in 2019. If it chooses not to, the union can file with the National Labor Relations Board for an election, in which the union will need a simple majority of votes to win recognition.
A spokeswoman for The New York Times Company said in a statement that the company had received the request for voluntary recognition from the union on Tuesday morning,
and that because voluntary recognition was a significant decision the company wanted to “make sure all voices are heard.”
“At The New York Times, we have a long history of positive and productive relationships with unions, and we respect the right of all employees to decide whether or not joining a union is right for them,” the spokeswoman said. “We will take time to review this request and discuss it soon with representatives of the NewsGuild.”
The organizing of The Times’s tech workers came months after more than 400 Google engineers and other workers formed a union, a rarity in Silicon Valley. An organizing drive at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama was voted down last week.
Media companies have had a surge in such efforts. Workers at publications like BuzzFeed News, Vice, The New Yorker, Slate and Vox Media have all formed unions in recent years.