New York Times reporters stage a historic 24-hour strike after management and the union fail to reach an agreement

New York
CNN Business

A 24-hour strike at The New York Times, a historic demonstration in which more than 1,100 employees are expected to participate, began Thursday at midnight, after management and the union representing the employees failed to reach an agreement on a new contract after more than a year and a half of negotiations. negotiation.

“It is disappointing that they are taking such drastic action, given the clear commitment we have shown to negotiate our way to a contract that provides Times journalists with significant pay increases, market-leading benefits, and flexible working conditions,” Meredith Cobbett-Levian, President and CEO of The Times , in an email to the company on Wednesday evening.

The NewsGuild of New York, which represents journalists and other staff at The Times, said in a statement that the walkout was “due to the company’s failure to bargain in good faith, reach a fair contract agreement with the workers, and meet their demands.”

The protest operation, which has not been organized by staff at the newspaper of record in decades, will leave many of its home offices depleted of staff, creating a challenge to the news organization that millions of readers depend on.

An executive at The Times, who asked not to be named to speak frankly, admitted to CNN on Wednesday that the work stoppage would certainly create difficulties. But, the executive said, management has prepared for now and can draw on the newspaper’s other resources, such as its international staff who are not largely part of the union, to fill in the blanks.

Joe Kahn, executive editor of The Times, said in a note to staff, “We will release a strong report on Thursday. But it will be harder than usual.”

Kopit Levien added in her corporate email that The Times has “plans in place to ensure that we live up to our obligations to our readers and the general public by reporting the news as fully as possible through any disruption caused by a strike.”

But some staff at The Times on Wednesday went so far as to urge readers not to consume the outlet’s content while on strike.

We ask our readers not to engage in anything [New York Times] Tomorrow, stand with us on the digital picket line! Amanda Hess, the newspaper’s critic-at-large, wrote on Twitter. “Read the local news. Listen to public radio. Make something out of a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak.”

At a massive rally held Thursday afternoon outside the Times offices in Times Square, dozens of union members held sit-down signs, handed out pamphlets, and demanded better wages.

New York Times reporter Nicole Hannah Jones speaks outside the Times office, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in New York.  Hundreds of New York Times reporters and other staff protested outside the Times office after being let go for 24 hours, frustrated by months of contract negotiations in the newspaper's biggest labor dispute in more than 40 years.

“We make paper, we make profits!” the crowd cheered.

The strike comes as the Gray Lady and New York’s NewsGuild remain at odds over a number of issues, notably wages, amid a backdrop of layoffs and intersections in the media industry.

In recent weeks, CNN has laid off hundreds of employees, newspaper chain Gannett has cut 200 employees, NPR has said it will need $10 million in savings, and other news organizations have explored the need to trim budgets and freeze hiring.

The Times confirmed that it had offered the union “significant raises”, but the union replied that the newspaper’s management “frequently skews its proposals”.

The Union Times’ News Guild newsletter described the pay concessions made by The Times on Wednesday as “frivolous” and said management was “barely budging” on the issue.

The two sides have been negotiating since the last contract expired in March 2021. Last Friday, NewsGuild told The Times of its plans to orchestrate a walkout, a move intended to pressure the administration into making additional concessions in the negotiations.

The union had asked The Times to meet in the middle on a wage increase, but the newspaper believed that the union had started from an extreme position, which made it unfeasible to do so.

Both sides worked throughout the week to avoid the 24-hour strike. But it was useless.

Management at The Times were frustrated with the way NewsGuild pursued negotiations and partly blamed the lack of progress in them.

“They refuse to meet in person,” the official told CNN. “It’s a really important point. I can’t stress it enough. We have negotiations on Zoom. There are eight or so people from management, up to 18 people on the negotiating committee from NewsGuild, and up to 200 union members watching as “watchers.” “.

The executive continued, “negotiations are essentially public.” This changes the dynamic of the entire negotiation. It becomes very performative and theatrical. It’s really hard to get things done. It’s like a show. And we need fruitful negotiations to reach a deal.”

Susan DeCarava, president of NewsGuild in New York, said in response, “Union democracy is critical to union power. That’s why we don’t conduct closed-door negotiations, which the administration continues to demand.”

“All members who will be affected by the decision that has been taken at the negotiating table should be aware of these discussions,” the representative added. “When the Times management comes to the negotiating table with its insulting and disrespectful offers, they have to explain it to a room full of their staff – and they hate it. The result of the management’s general actions is the mighty strike that will take place tomorrow.”

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