Vehicles drive past the New York Times headquarters in New York March 1, 2010. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The New York Times prepares for a 24-hour strike

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times is bracing for a 24-hour strike Thursday by hundreds of reporters and other workers, in what would be the first such strike at the paper in more than 40 years.

Newsroom workers and other New York NewsGuild members say they are fed up with the dragging negotiations since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more of 1,100 employees would stage a 24-hour work stoppage beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday unless the two sides reach a contractual agreement.

Negotiations took place on Tuesday and part of Wednesday, but the sides remained far apart on issues such as pay increases and remote working policies.

On Wednesday evening, the union said via Twitter that no agreement had been reached and the walkout was ongoing. “We were prepared to work as long as it took to reach a fair deal,” he said, “but management walked away from the table with five hours to go.”

“We know what we are worth,” added the union.

But New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement that they were still negotiating when they learned the strike was taking place.

“It’s disappointing that they’re taking such an extreme step when we’re not at an impasse,” she said.

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It was unclear how Thursday’s coverage would be affected, but strike supporters understand members from the fast-paced live news desk covering breaking news for the digital newspaper. Employees were planning a rally that afternoon outside the newspaper’s offices near Times Square.

Rhoades Ha told The Associated Press that the company has “solid plans in place” to continue producing content, including relying on international reporters and other non-union journalists.

In a memo sent to staff represented by the guild on Tuesday evening, deputy editor Cliff Levy called the planned strike “puzzling” and a “troubling moment in new contract negotiations.” He said it would be the bargaining unit’s first strike since 1981 and “comes despite the company’s intensified efforts to make progress”.

But in a letter signed by more than 1,000 employees, the NewsGuild said management had been “dragging its feet” in negotiations for nearly two years and that “time is running out to reach a fair contract” by the end of the year .

The NewsGuild also said the company told employees planning to strike, they would not be paid for the duration of the walkout. Members were also asked to work overtime to get the job done before the strike, according to the union.

The New York Times has seen other shorter walkouts in recent years, including a half-day protest in August by a new union representing tech workers that exposed unfair labor practices.

In a breakthrough that both sides called significant, the company backed out of its proposal to replace the existing adjustable retirement plan with an enhanced 401(k) retirement plan. The Times instead offered to let the union choose between the two. The company has also agreed to extend the benefits of fertility treatment.

Levy said the company had also offered to increase salaries by 5.5% upon contract ratification, followed by 3% increases in 2023 and 2024. This would represent an increase from the annual increases of 2, 2% of the expired contract.

Stacy Cowley, a financial reporter and union representative, said the union was asking for 10% wage increases upon ratification, which she said would make up for increases not received over the past two years.

She also said the union wants the contract to guarantee employees the ability to work remotely part of the time, if their roles permit, but the company wants the right to call workers back to the office full-time. Cowley said the Times required its staff to be in the office three days a week, but many showed up less often at an informal protest.

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