Feb 28, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Bloomberg Industry Group union to stage demonstration

Illustration of a fist holding a pencil.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The union for Bloomberg Industry Group, an affiliate of Bloomberg L.P. that houses Bloomberg Law, Bloomberg Tax & Accounting and Bloomberg Government, plans to stage a demonstration Monday to protest difficult negotiations with management over wages and telework, per a union organizer.

The big picture: Demonstrations and walkouts are becoming an increasingly common bargaining tactic for newsroom unions.

  • In December, BuzzFeed News union members staged a walkout the same day as BuzzFeed's SPAC IPO vote.
  • In November, The New York Times' products review site Wirecutter planned a five-day walkout during its busiest time of the year in an effort to get management to negotiate wage increases.

Details: Union organizers for Bloomberg Industry Group plan to hold a demonstration Monday at 12:30 p.m. ET to persuade management ahead of its union contract expiring Tuesday at midnight.

  • At this point in negotiations, union members think it's unlikely the two parties will reach a tentative agreement by that deadline.
  • Union organizers are planning to congregate in front of Bloomberg Industry Group's downtown Washington D.C. office with a bullhorn shouting chants. They will have a person dressed up as a huge dinosaur, which reflects one of the union's slogans: "Don't be a dinosaur. Pay what we're worth."
  • Dozens of union members are expected to participate in-person on Monday, according to a union member. Other Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild unions have been invited to participate as well, including the one for The Washington Post.
  • The demonstration will include some virtual components, including live-tweeting photos and videos from the event from the guild's Twitter account, and coordinated out-of-office messages for union members to support the demonstration.

The two big issues the union and management are fighting over are wages and telework accommodations.

  • The union is asking for wage increases, but says management is very reluctant to increase wages to meet inflation.
  • It also wants its telework policies to reflect long-term changes brought on by the pandemic, such as a more permanent guarantee of telework as an option.
  • "Usually this is the part where we're hammering out all of the hard parts around the agreement," a union organizer said. But conversations haven't made much progress.
  • "The only time they (management) listen to us is when we embarrass Michael Bloomberg," one union member said.

A Bloomberg Industry Group spokesperson said, "Over the course of 15 collective bargaining sessions during the past five weeks, Bloomberg Industry Group has made its Guild-covered employees an extremely generous contract offer that includes guaranteed above-market wage increases and industry-leading benefits that far exceed those offered by other media organizations in our area – while providing for flexible work for the foreseeable future."

  • "That means two remote work days for employees and three work days in the office, which is consistent with many other employers.

Catch up quick: Employees who work for the firm known today as Bloomberg Industry Group have been represented by The NewsGuild CWA since 1938. In 2011, Bloomberg L.P. bought what was then a professional services and research group called "BNA," which stood for Bureau of National Affairs, for around $990 million.

  • Bloomberg Industry Group's sister company, Bloomberg Media, is not unionized. Bloomberg Industry Group is based mostly in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia.

What to watch: Telework and pandemic safety provisions have become a bigger part of union negotiations across the news industry amid the pandemic.

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