The New York Times building on October 26. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
More than 1,000 members of the New York Times union, which includes hundreds of newsroom staff, plan to walk off the job if company management does not agree to terms of a new contract. here on December 8, the union announced Friday.
why is it important: The two sides have been at odds for more than a year and a half on a host of issues, including pay raises. These tensions reached a boiling point as the holiday season approached.
Drive the news: In a letter sent to management on Friday, the NewsGuild of New York reiterated its demands to management and expressed a level of frustration with the drawn-out talks.
- “We spent more than 120 hours over 40 negotiating sessions discussing and modifying dozens of proposals,” the letter said.
- “We have listened carefully to management’s positions and concerns and have made countless revisions to address them. In return, we have been lectured about the dire economic future facing the company – even as the company speaks to Wall Street of a successful company that can afford to pay millions in salaries and benefits to its top executives.”
- The letter, sent to Times publisher AG Sulzberger and its president and CEO, Meredith Kopit Levien, lists key demands, including a new raise structure, keeping pension plan policies intact and changes to performance evaluations.
Between the lines: Much of the union’s argument has long been that Times management has refused to bring adequate wage increase proposals to the bargaining table, despite the fact that the Times is better off financially than it is. hasn’t done so for many years and continues to increase dividend payouts to shareholders.
- “In 2022, the @nytimes spent millions of dollars buying Wordle and The Athletic and allocated $150 million in share buybacks to its investors,” said one. Tweeter of the guild read. “And yet he continues to offer pay ‘raises’ that amount to pay cuts during record inflation.”
- The letter sent Friday represents more than 1,036 union members represented by guild. Each has signed a pledge that gives the guild’s bargaining committee the power “to request and schedule a 24-hour work stoppage” if both sides fail to make progress at the bargaining table.
What they say : “While we are disappointed that the NewsGuild is threatening to strike, we stand ready to ensure that The Times continues to serve our readers without interruption,” a New York Times spokesperson said in a statement provided to Axios. “We remain committed to working with the NYT NewsGuild to secure a deal we can all be proud of.”
- “Our current salary proposal offers significant increases. The majority of bargaining unit members would earn 50% or more additional earnings during the term of the new contract compared to what they would have if the old contract had been maintained. “said the spokesperson. “In addition, our accompanying medical and retirement proposals provide sustainable, top-notch options for Guild members.”
- “For more context, according to our latest proposal, a union reporter earning $120,000, which is slightly below the unit’s median base salary, would earn approximately $33,000 in additional income over the life of the new contract – which is 57% more than if the old contract had continued,” the spokesperson said. “A union reporter earning $160,000 would earn approximately $44,000 in additional income over the term of the new contract, or 108% of more than if the previous contract had continued.”
Catch up fast: The guild’s last contract with management expired in March 2021. Since then, the two parties have been meeting regularly to discuss a new contract, but as the talks drag on, the tension has become more palpable.
Be smart: This is not the first time that unionized Times employees have quit or threatened to quit.
- Hundreds of employees staged a walkout in 2017 over the company’s decision to eliminate its standalone copy desk.
- Last year, the union representing employees of The Times’ consumer review site Wirecutter staged a five-day strike to protest management’s negotiations with its union.
The big picture: Walkouts, strikes and work stoppages have become more common in recent months as editors seek better contracts in the wake of the pandemic.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a statement from a New York Times spokesperson.
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