By: Mark Fitzgerald
Thomson Reuters Corp. is “illegally imposing drastic” pay cuts on U.S.-based unionized journalists and technicians at the financial information and news service, the Newspaper Guild of New York alleges in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
According to the Guild, Thomson Reuters ended more than a year of contract talks with the union by unilaterally declaring negotiations at an impasse on Jan. 19. Thomson Reuters also said then, “it would implement most of its comprehensive package of cuts throughout this year, which would reduce employees’ compensation by an average 10 percent,” a Guild announcement of the NLRB filing said.
Thomson Reuters disputed the Guild account in a statement reported by The Associated Press Friday, and said it was actually guaranteeing a 0.5% salary increase for the approximately 400 unionized journalists at Reuters News service. Thomson Reuters also said some employee could get further merit pay increases.
“We believe such a system is fairer than a lockstep system and is essential for Reuters’ future,” the statement said in part.
The Guild complaint also says Thomson Reuters “illegally” implemented a Twitter policy without negotiating with the union. According to the Guild the policy bars employees from writing anything on the mini-blog service “that would damage the reputation of Reuters News or Thomson Reuters.”
“A union activist was ‘reminded’ of the policy after responding to a senior manager’s call to ‘join the (Twitter) conversation on making Reuters the best place to work’ with a tweet that said: ‘One way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with Guild members,'” the Guild local said in a statement.
An earlier complaint filed with the NLRB says Thomson Reuters has “made it all but impossible to bargain over major economic issues” by withholding information from the union.
“This dispute is really about saving quality journalism in this country,” New York Guild President Bill O’Meara said in a statement. “If a healthy company like Thomson Reuters — whose CEO made almost as much in 2008 as our 420 members’ annual salaries — cuts pay, it will cause less healthy news organizations to cut even more, and pretty soon many of the journalists our democracy depends on won’t be able to afford to stay in the business.”
The Guild, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, represents news text, photo, television, technical and related employees at the company.