Photo credit: TIME Union
About 100 unionized workers with Time magazine are threatening to strike on May 23 if management does not agree to a contract with the union. The workers unionized nearly three years ago, but management has delayed the bargaining process, a common stalling tactic to demoralize unions. The strike would coincide with the release of the TIME 100, Time‘s annual list of influential figures.
Workers demand fair conditions, fair pay and equal rights
The TIME Union, represented by the NewsGuild of New York, formed in 2019 as workers for TIME Digital and TIME for Kids joined their fellow print editorial workers. While the print editors have been unionized for 80 years, digital and “spin-off” workers of major publications are often left out. The workers of the TIME Union are demanding simple, commonsense contract measures: job protections, fair salaries and guaranteed wage increases as inflation skyrockets. They have also demanded that TIME hire more workers from underrepresented communities.
Workers have complained that the backward, unaccountable hiring practices have meant that taking a “promotion” can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Abby Vesoulis, a staff writer for TIME, shared her experience:
“After covering everything from impeachment hearings to a presidential election to a once-in-a-century pandemic as a reporter for TIME, I was ecstatic to earn a promotion to Staff Writer … I was less ecstatic that my promotion effectively meant a $20,000 pay cut, as I would no longer be eligible for overtime pay. TIME staffers deserve a fair contract with safeguards against this so they don’t have to worry that getting promoted for their hard work will result in getting paid less for it.”
Workers are also fighting to stop the use of “meeting metrics” as an excuse for disciplining workers. As with many workers across tech and digital platforms, TIME writers are expected to meet metrics that are often arbitrary, outdated and outside of their control. They argue that this is not in the spirit of journalism, which requires investigation and analysis, not a focus on quotas.
TIME stalls, refuses to meet with workers
Rather than meet these demands, TIME has instead stalled for three years in negotiations. In the three years since the formation of the union, workers’ demands have been largely the same.
Meeting the demands of TIME workers would not be hard for Marc Russell Benioff, the billionaire Salesforce CEO who bought TIME in 2018. In an article from January, Benioff brags that TIME is projecting 30% revenue growth this year to over $200 million.
Much of the “innovation” mythology powering TIME’s projected growth is built on the work of digital workers. This makes it even more insulting that the company would try to cordon off these workers from the rest of the company, not allowing them equal rights and protections.
Workers prepared to fight to show the real influential 100
TIME is well-known for its TIME 100 list, an annual run-down of the most “influential” people in the world. It takes on a special significance then that about 100 TIME workers are ready to walk out in defense of their rights.
TIME workers take pride in their journalism. Without their tireless work, the magazine has nothing to offer to the public. Thus, it is vitally important that TIME workers at every step of the process have the rights they deserve codified in their union contract. If that isn’t granted, there will be another influential 100 making the news on May 23.
Brian Bennett, Senior White House Correspondent for TIME, explained why he is willing to walk out for workers:
“I have been a committed journalist for two decades, more than half of that at TIME magazine. Management seems content with the status quo, but my colleagues and I are demanding more — adequate pay, a voice at the decision table, and strong diversity policies … [A] strong contract that covers all of us, not just some of us, will allow us to do the work we love under the conditions we deserve. It’s critical we reach a fair contract now, without further delay from management.”