Federal authorities on Thursday declared their intent to move against Time Inc., after The NewsGuild of New York accused it of labor law violations that have enabled the publishing giant to outsource Guild-represented journalism jobs and cut its staff.
The Manhattan office of the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces the country’s key labor law, told representatives of the Guild and Time Inc. that it would issue a complaint, similar to an indictment, by the end of June, absent a settlement with the NLRB and the Guild. [UPDATE: On Friday, an NLRB official extended the time by which a complaint would be issued into July to give the parties additional time to negotiate.]
“We hope the government’s findings are a wake-up call for Time Inc. management to come back to the table and negotiate an agreement that respects the interests of its journalists, whose work has given its magazines their reputations for high quality,” said Guild President Bill O’Meara.
Central to the complaint is the NLRB regional office’s finding that contract talks with the Guild had not reached a legal impasse, as Time Inc. management had declared last fall, which gave the company the legal cover to impose its so-called last, best and final offer in November.
If the NLRB’s initial findings are upheld, the company could be forced to roll back its imposed terms, restore the previous labor agreement and make employees whole for any losses they incurred. If no settlement is reached, the case will go before an NLRB administrative law judge.
The unlawfully imposed conditions enabled Time Inc.’s recently installed management team to replace much of the company’s home-grown journalism with outsourced content. They allowed the company to subcontract up to 60 full-time journalists and all of the 100 Guild-represented temporary journalism jobs – in all, more than half the journalists at the company’s five oldest and most prestigious magazines: TIME, People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money. Management has already subcontracted photographer jobs at Sports Illustrated and is in the process of outsourcing other work.
Another imposed working condition is management’s Robin-Hood-in-reverse health care plan for 2015, which takes from lower-paid employees in the form of higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, and gives to executives, managers and other high earners in the form of reduced out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles.
The NLRB also agreed with the Guild’s charge that management violated the law by dealing directly with departing employees over their severance terms, instead of with the union.
Richard S. Corenthal, a Member of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., represents The NewsGuild of New York in the matter.