The Athletic and The New York Times logos. Credit: The Athletic and The New York Times

Staffers at The Athletic are reportedly in talks with the NewsGuild of New York to form a union that would operate as a new bargaining unit within the New York Times Co., which bought The Athletic in January 2022.

The move, reported by Sara Fischer of Axios, comes amid uncertainty around The Athletic’s integration with the New York Times editorial umbrella. The Athletic’s URL this week was absorbed by the Times, while the paper’s parent company continues to make licensing payments to The Athletic and treat the sports newsroom as a separate entity.

Three other unions already exist among NYT Co. staffers, including the primary editorial newsroom, Wirecutter, and the company’s tech workers.

A union among The Athletic’s staff would represent a fourth, and could some soon, per Fischer, who reports that workers from the sports website have already been in touch with the NewsGuild of New York.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post reported in October 2022 that staffers at The Athletic mulled a union shortly after its purchase by the NYT Co. Last year, The Athletic laid off 20 people while the Times cut its sports desk and reassigned its writers to different departments.

Many viewed the Times‘ decision to axe its sports section as a way of cutting away a portion of its organized workforce and replacing it with The Athletic, which it could exert greater control over. A unionization effort at The Athletic would mitigate those efforts.

The core issue in unionization proceedings would likely be where The Athletic sits within the company. The Times may pay licensing fees to The Athletic, but it owns the growing sports content company and has purview over the org chart and management.

As a primary sports news source in the United States and United Kingdom, The Athletic holds considerable influence and prominence in the sports industry and among sports fans in 2024. Its future will affect the whole business.

[Axios Media Trends]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.