Disgruntled New York Times employees go to ‘strike school’
If contract talks continue to deteriorate, The New York Times may find it has a new competitor – an independent newspaper published by angry striking employees.
While the News Guild union, which represents journalists, photographers and some people on the business and management side, remains in negotiations, the talks are becoming increasingly acrimonious.
Some union organizers are preparing for a possible strike and a strike log, The Post has learned.
“A lot of people are saying we should strike,” an insider said at a rally of Times employees on Thursday night.
The union leadership, however, is not there yet. But a one-day walkout is being considered, a source said.
On Thursday, the company presented its response to the latest union demands and said it was only willing to give workers an additional 0.5% pay rise, increasing the offer from 4% to 4 .5% upon ratification.
“It’s not a big enough change to make a difference in anyone’s life,” the insider said.
The union, citing rampant inflation and the Times’ profitability as subscription revenues continue to climb, is pushing for an 8% wage hike.
In addition to the 4.5% hike offered by the NYT upon ratification, the company has offered smaller 3% hikes in 2023 and 2024 and says it will all amount to a 10.5% hike over time. of a new agreement.
The company’s counteroffer comes at a time when the News Guild is preparing all of the media units it represents to prepare if and when a strike occurs.
On September 17, the News Guild held its first-ever “Strike School,” which drew about 30 New York Times attendees as well as employees from Gannett, NBC, Insider, Reuters, Condé Nast and others.
On Tuesday, October 11, the union is pushing the agenda further with a one-day course on how to issue a strike post.
In more tumultuous times in newspaper-worker relations, strike diaries – run by unemployed journalists – frequently sprang up, but most evaporated when strikers returned to work. A notable exception is the New York Review of Books, which emerged as a competitor to the New York Times Book Review during the 1963 strike.
Last year, when the New Yorker Union was considering a strike, an edition of The New Yorker Strike Edition was prepared, but Condé Nast management and the union reached a last-minute deal with the employees.
A strike at the NYT is still not in the immediate cards as both sides are still talking. But “we are preparing,” News Guild president Susan DeCarva said in an email to all union-represented media.
However, the union has yet to call a strike authorization vote.
“There’s definitely a strike feeling in the newsroom, but it’s a big newsroom,” an insider said. The union leadership wouldn’t want to call a strike vote unless there was “super majority support”, another added.
The two sides remain distant, as the last contract expired in March 2021 and the rank-and-file workers have not received a pay rise since March 2020.
“Our Guild Bargaining Committee was back at the bargaining table on Thursday and we were again reminded of the company’s bait and switch techniques as they once again presented a wage counter that fails to keep up with inflation,” the union said in a note to members after Thursday’s meeting. “Management’s attorneys have also declined to engage in meaningful discussions about health and safety and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the memo continues.
In addition to an 8% annual raise, the union is calling for an increase in the cost of living and sabbaticals for senior journalists. He also opposes a company plan to scrap his retirement plan and replace it with a 401(k) plan that would end employer contributions once a worker retires.
More than 1,300 Times employees signed a pledge refusing to return to the office last month because the company allegedly pushed to have workers three days a week.
The boycott only lasted a week and some employees have started returning to the office while others continue to work remotely. The union said this week it had no breakdown of how many people have returned to the office.
A Times spokeswoman said: ‘We are pleased with how the return to power is going so far.
As for the union’s demands, the spokesperson said: “The NewsGuild’s salary proposal goes far beyond the limits of any organization, especially in such an uncertain economic climate.
The company points out that the median media salary for News Guild employees is $133,000, making Times reporters one of the highest paid in the industry. But insiders complain that the publication paid out $8 million in stock dividends to shareholders last year and gave huge pay rises to publisher AG Sulzberger, the scion of the family that controls The Times. and President and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien and others.
“They just don’t want to give us a decent pay raise,” an insider said.
The NYT spokeswoman, who declined to comment on the strike, added, “While we hope to reach a collective agreement as soon as possible, there are still many outstanding proposals that must be resolved before a contract can be reached. be finalized”.