Union Busting — Good for the NYT, Bad for Everyone Else

The NYT has threatened to shutter its Boston Globe subsidiary in 60 days if its unions don’t agree to various cuts.  According to the Times’ own coverage:

“The company has said since early April that unless the unions make wide-ranging concessions, it will close The Globe…”

Hmmm….  What would the New York Times say if someone else, like let’s say Walmart, threatened to close down its units because unions would drive costs too high.  Oh, wait, they did write an editorial about that on August 16, 2008.  It begins:

“It is hardly news that Wal-Mart will do whatever it takes to keep unions out of its stores, from closing down a unionized outlet to firing pro-union workers.”

I guess it is hardly news that the New York Times would engage in the same practices that they find deplorable if allegedly done by others.

And who could forget this gem of an editorial by the Times on December 28, 2008?  Just a few months ago the Times seemed to think that expanding union power was great because it would raise wages, which was necessary for economic recovery:

“Even modest increases in the share of the unionized labor force push wages upward, because nonunion workplaces must keep up with unionized ones that collectively bargain for increases. By giving employees a bigger say in compensation issues, unions also help to establish corporate norms, the absence of which has contributed to unjustifiable disparities between executive pay and rank-and-file pay.

The argument against unions — that they unduly burden employers with unreasonable demands — is one that corporate America makes in good times and bad, so the recession by itself is not an excuse to avoid pushing the bill next year. The real issue is whether enhanced unionizing would worsen the recession, and there is no evidence that it would.

There is a strong argument that the slack labor market of a recession actually makes unions all the more important. Without a united front, workers will have even less bargaining power in the recession than they had during the growth years of this decade, when they largely failed to get raises even as productivity and profits soared. If pay continues to lag, it will only prolong the downturn by inhibiting spending.”

  Come on NYT!  Can’t you follow your own advice?  Do your part for the economy and raise those Boston Globe wages higher rather than slashing them.

(edited for typos)

5 Responses to Union Busting — Good for the NYT, Bad for Everyone Else

  1. Reasonable criticism.

    However, there is a profound and wide gap between tough negotiations from a company and its union and refusing to allow collective bargaining in the first place or even dismissing workers for simply wanting a more democratic voice in the workplace.

  2. Ryan says:

    The NYT already has an editorial out for Dec. 28 of this year? Amazing! They’re really on top of things up there.

  3. Good catch Ryan. I fixed it.

    And good points, Michael. There are differences here, but they seem more like of degree, not kind.

  4. Patrick says:


    It sounds as if the NYT was of the opinion that the union negotiation force good corporate norms, including increased wages which were good for everyone (even non-union folk, most research tends to suggest that union’s actually force wages down in non union jobs).

    That said, wouldn’t the demand that union folk make concessions mean that the NYT doesn’t like those “good corporate norms” forced on them by the union.

    Yes, there is a difference between having a union and closing shop to avoid one, but their point was that the union was always good…until it isn’t.

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