Don’t Cross the Wirecutter Picket Line

Don’t Cross the Wirecutter Picket Line
Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP

Wirecutter employees are asking us to resist the temptation of their own excellent deals this Black Friday weekend and boycott the site. The Wirecutter union announced today that every member of its unit has agreed to walk out from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in protest of the New York Times management’s alleged foot-dragging on contract negotiations. The Times-owned product review vertical (previously a separate company acquired by the Times in 2016) founded a union in 2019 but still hasn’t reached a collective bargaining agreement.

Wirecutter, along with the Times Guild and Times Tech Guild (all represented by the NewsGuild) rallied last week outside the New York Times offices to protest alleged bad-faith bargaining and unfair labour practices. In June 2021, the NewsGuild filed an unfair labour practice charge against the New York Times, accusing it of orchestrating a “coordinated union-busting campaign,” preventing roughly 650 non-unionized tech workers from showing union support and questioning them about their stance.

The main sticking points in the Wirecutter negotiations are the union’s desired minimum salary of $US58,000 (A$80,265) and a three-per cent annual pay raise. Wirecutter union chair Nick Guy told Gizmodo over the phone that, following the rally, the Times recently raised its annual pay raise offer from .5 per cent to a modest 1 per cent with options for merit-based raises. He reported that, since the walk-out preparations were announced a little over two weeks ago, the union offered the Times management nine bargaining dates before Black Friday. All, Guy said, were declined.

Wirecutter union members’ salaries fall far short of those of their newsroom colleagues, Guy said, claiming that the median Wirecutter union salary is $US43,000 (A$59,507) less than that of Times Guild members (i.e., news reporters).

“We have been told at the table, at least once, ‘you don’t do New York Times work,’” Guy said. “It’s something that’s really stuck with us because we know that we do. We know that Wirecutter was purchased by the Times because it is New York Times-quality work. We know that our work appears sometimes in print alongside that of our newsroom colleagues, and it appears every single day on nytimes.com.”

The union isn’t even asking to match newsroom salaries, Guy said. Only that their pay is “more representative of the value that we bring to the Times.”

In an email to Gizmodo, a New York Times spokesperson wrote, “We’re actively working with the Wirecutter Union to reach a collective bargaining agreement that continues to reward our employees for their work and contributions to The Times’s success, and we look forward to continuing those negotiations at the bargaining table.” They added that the Times management offered Wirecutter dates in December but did not address follow-up questions about Wirecutter’s offers to bargain before Black Friday or the sizable salary disparity.

If you absolutely can not close the Wirecutter tab, the least you can do is not shop through the affiliate links.