IAPE, the union that represents journalists at The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch.com and Barron’s, has demanded Dow Jones & Co. rescind any changes to its Book Leave policy and has insisted the company withhold any layoff notices it plans to issue to reporters affected by the closing of the Greater New York section of The Journal.
In a Jun. 23 letter to the Dow Jones legal department, IAPE president Jodi Green challenged company claims that it has no obligation to discuss changes to the Book Leave policy, or External Project policy.
“The policy in question obviously affects the terms and conditions of IAPE members’ employment and, as such, is a mandatory subject of bargaining,” Green said. “The law requires that bargaining be conducted in good faith.”
“Good faith, in this circumstance, requires that management retract the prematurely-issued policy while the parties negotiate.”
In a separate letter delivered to Dow Jones on Jun. 22, IAPE questioned a statement in a Jun. 17 email from Journal editor in chief Matt Murray announcing the end of the GNY section, in which he wrote, “This morning, we informed the Greater New York staff that we’re shutting down the team and ceasing publication in print and digital on July 9. Team members will have the chance to apply for other jobs.”
The letter advised the company of IAPE’s position: “The union insists that Dow Jones withhold any notices of layoff it planned to deliver as a result of this reorganization, and that employees be permitted to transfer with their jobs consistent with the terms of Article V, Section A of the Collective Agreement.”
IAPE reminded Dow Jones of 2019 contract negotiations over the issue of restructuring and the requirement for affected employees to reapply for positions held when those jobs were transferred to other departments. Those negotiations resulted in a new provision within the “Transfers” article of the contract.
That new contract language requires the company to permit employees to transfer to new departments “without any posting or application process” when jobs are transferred to different departments without any reduction in headcount.
Responding to the union’s letter, a Dow Jones representative said, “The work performed by the employees who have been noticed for layoff will not be continued in other departments, and the employees are not being required to reapply for ‘their jobs.’ The company’s decision to discontinue publishing the Greater New York section of The Wall Street Journal means that the coverage responsibilities of the affected employees will cease to exist. They all had beats that were primarily targeted for GNY content.”
The union will continue to investigate whether issuing layoff notices to GNY staff constitutes a violation of the IAPE/DJ contract.