The New York Times is heading for a potentially nasty union fight in the wake of its decision to shut down its sports department.
The NewsGuild of New York said late Monday that it intends to contest the Times’ decision to have its sports coverage handled by The Athletic, which the paper purchased early last year for $550 million. The Athletic isn’t unionized and remains unprofitable.
“We will fight this flagrant attempt at union-busting with every tool we have,” the union said in a statement. “Our standard is clear: union work at The Times Company is performed by union workers.”
The roughly 35 journalists and editors are being reassigned within the Times — as opposed to losing their jobs. But the transfers still represent a move to produce sports content with non-union labor instead of NewsGuild members.
“Times leadership is attempting to outsource union jobs on our sports desk … under the preposterous argument that the Times can ‘subcontract’ its sports coverage to itself,” The NewsGuild said.
Lately, the Times has had difficult relations with the NewsGuild. In May, the paper reached a new contract with the union — a deal that ended more than two years of often-contentious talks and a 24-hour strike — granting employees numerous benefits, including a 73% boost in minimum salaries.
“I spent more than two years on the bargaining committee fighting for a strong and fair contract,” said Ken Belson, who covers the NFL for the Times. “The era of unilateral decision-making by management will not go unchallenged.”