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Technology workers on strike, pushing for remote work settings

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Wally Gobetz | Flickr

700 technology workers who are part of the Times Tech Guild Union at the New York Times went on strike on Oct. 30 after the company pushed its return-to-office policy. Since many of the tech workers can complete their work from home effectively, the demand to commute to the office is unnecessary, and the commute itself is physically and economically taxing.

Americans were accustomed to the draining commute to the office before the pandemic. However, with online interfaces like Zoom and Microsoft Teams integrated into daily office life, many employees are questioning the necessity of returning to offices when work tasks could be completed from the comfort of their homes.

Earlier last year, NYT employees voted to become a part of the TTG, creating the largest tech union in the United States. The union protects the rights of its technology workers and ensures their satisfaction inside the workplace.

The union organized in-person protests around its Manhattan headquarters and virtual rallies to highlight the employee dissatisfaction with the company’s incessant demand for workers to return to the office. Workers found that the company failed to acknowledge their right to bargain specifically on issues related to its return-to-the-office policy.

The company claimed that in-person presence will improve the evaluation of the employee’s eligibility for raises and bonuses. Despite previous statements by the NYT regarding the benefits of a schedule that integrates both in-person and remote days, the larger issue of the company is its failure to acknowledge the workers’ wishes for a total remote schedule.

However, remote work can increase productivity and employee well-being since a personal space can provide a more relaxed mindset.

“This afternoon’s work stoppage is to send The Times’ senior leadership a strong, unmistakable message: We will not stand by and allow you to trample on our rights,” a chairperson of the union said.

The union’s demonstration served to draw attention to the company’s refusal to collaborate with the workers in regard to policies. Moreover, it emphasized the disadvantages of only requiring in-person work schedules.

There should be discussions surrounding the requirement for in-person attendance in the office. However, the ongoing pressure placed on workers needs to be addressed.

Union members should not be forced to comply with policies without exercising their right to bargain with employers; therefore these demonstrations are crucial to the future relationship between the tech workers and the company.

Hopefully, workers’ efforts are not in vain. Their protest would not only aid in the final decision on this current issue but also help to establish respect for the union and its members.

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