The NewsGuild of New York authorized $250,000 in spending to support lengthy labor contract negotiations at Law360.
Staffers at the media company joined the union in 2016 but have yet to reach agreement on a first contract.
“It’s just too long,” NewsGuild Local 31003 representative Susan DeCarava told Bloomberg Law. “We want the pace of negotiations to match the passion that our members feel about these issues.”
The financial commitment is “a resounding statement of support,” she said Sept. 20. Asked how the money will be spent, DeCarava said, “In practical terms, that means anything from supporting materials about messaging to potential ad buys when we go public, if we go public.”
Law360 didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Asking for monetary support makes sense if the union is seeking to “rally the troops,” but it isn’t a common tactic, management attorney Mark Neuberger told Bloomberg Law Sept. 21.
The money “could maybe be used differently, or the message could get out a lot cheaper and quicker, through things like email and social media,” he said. Neuberger is with Foley & Lardner in Miami.
Devoting funds to a negotiation campaign indicates a strategy of sorts, University of Illinois labor professor Robert Bruno told Bloomberg Law.
Unions usually disburse funds during negotiations if a bargaining unit is particularly “important” or if there is a “real difficulty” with contract talks, he said. Offering financial support is “the union’s way of saying, ‘We want you to be successful here. This is important to us,’ maybe beyond just this employer.”
Noncompetes Are History
One subject of negotiations has been settled: The company and the union agreed that noncompete clauses won’t be required, Law360 union chair Juan Carlos Rodriguez told Bloomberg Law. A company might use such a clause to limit how soon a worker can take a job with the employer’s competitors.
Law360 reporters have been without noncompete agreements since 2016 as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general.
“We want to make sure those don’t come back,” said Rodriguez, who has worked at Law360 since 2011. “Noncompetes were a wage suppressant by keeping people in one place and preventing them from leaving. They run counter to the core values of journalism, of freedom of speech and expression.”
More than 170 of Law360’s reporters are members of the NewsGuild, DeCarava said.
Law360 is a subsidiary of LexisNexis and has offices in locations that include New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The contract would cover employees nationally.
The NewsGuild is part of the Communication Workers of America and also represents editorial staffers at Bloomberg Law.
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(Updated to reflect additional reporting.)