Photo Credit: NewsGuild of New York (Twitter)
New York — Today at 12 p.m. ET, members of The NewsGuild of New York, the local labor union representing over 3,000 media professionals in New York City, are uniting on social media against media companies and their anti-union law firms to demand #JustCauseNoExceptions. Just cause — an industry and labor standard that guarantees a worker’s right to due process and fair representation in disciplinary situations — is under threat as media industry employers try to significantly weaken or eliminate these contractual protections altogether with a so-called editorial exception.
At a time when employees across the industry are demanding transparency and accountability, employers are pushing for contract language that would allow them to make anything, from “tone” to vague performance goals, into a failure to adhere to editorial standards. Essentially, this exception lets management discipline employees with impunity, denying due process or review under the guise of managerial discretion in exercising subjective editorial judgment.
“Even before the start of this pandemic, media companies and their lawyers were mounting an unprecedented campaign against the very idea of just cause in journalism,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York. “Without just cause, a culture of silence will become the norm in our workplaces. We’re fighting to ensure fairness and equity — particularly in this time when our Black colleagues and colleagues of color are challenging media power structures — by maintaining this essential safeguard against unjust discipline.”
While just cause remains a fundamental protection in NewsGuild contracts — present in agreements with The New York Times, Reuters, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Law360 and countless others — newsrooms where the Guild is bargaining first contracts are being met with this anti-worker and anti-journalism editorial exception. Guild members at The New Yorker, BuzzFeed News, New York Magazine, Wirecutter, Quartz, and Ziff Davis (Mashable, PCMag) are making clear that this provision is critical for the dissent that is vital to every newsroom.
“Right now, the media industry is having a very public reckoning, which has caused managers at media institutions, like The New Yorker, to examine their coverage,” said Natalie Meade, editorial staffer at The New Yorker. “They are asking employees — oftentimes Black and other people of color — to identify editorial issues and bring them to light. Yet, our bosses continue to deny us just cause, which protects us from the arbitrary whims of our managers.We need just cause without an editorial exception, so we can continue to do the work they ask of us without fear of reprisal.”
“As a company owned by The New York Times, Wirecutter is fighting for the same just cause protections that’ve been present in the Times’ collective bargaining agreement for decades,” said Nick Guy, Senior Staff Writer at Wirecutter. “It’s essential that the members of our unit, and all media unions, are safe to do their work without fear or favor, and speak their minds without fear of discrimination or retaliation.”
Members across the NewsGuild are expected to participate in the Just Cause Day of Action from media companies like The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, The Nation, BuzzFeed News and New York Magazine.
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