Another Sunday, another New York Times magazine, this one featuring a cover story about “Scott Walker and the dismantling of American unions.” Readers of the Old Grey Lady, a newspaper not without its virtues, are undoubtedly aware of its sympathy for down-trodden workers, especially if they belong to trade unions.
Now comes a problem. It seems that in Paris, the headquarters of the paper’s international operations since 1967 when it bought into the International Herald Tribune, there are work rules that make it rather expensive for the NYT to operate. The Financial Times reports that the paper’s management “acknowledged that French employment laws are playing a part in the decision to expand its London presence, while departing editorial staff in Paris are not being replaced.” The news cycle, now 24/7, probably is not consistent with the legal 35-hour work week in France. “There is more labor flexibility in London”, says a spokesman, perhaps unaware that an editorial in the paper’s April 25, 2011 edition called the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to prevent Boeing’s move of some facilities to a non-union plant in South Carolina “a welcome effort to defend workers’ right to collective bargaining.” Where you stand depends on where you sit, and when the owners of the paper sit in the seat of the capitalist they behave rather like the capitalists who seek to keep their enterprises viable by resisting efforts to reduce their control over scheduling and pay. Highlighted in larger and bolder type than the other text in the paper’s magazine section is this quote, “It is only a question of who makes the money – the workers or the owners.” Indeed.