New York Times could go dark for a day: Journalists threaten to walk if pay demands are not met

Over 1,000 unionized New York employees are reportedly threatening to conduct a 24-hour walkout, but it appears the general public couldn’t care any less.

The reason for this upcoming walkout was outlined to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien in a letter sent Friday by New York Times Guild union chair Bill Baker.

“For more than 20 months, we have worked in good faith to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, after the last one expired in March 2021. That good faith has not been returned by your negotiators,” the letter reads.

“We have spent more than 120 hours across 40 bargaining sessions exchanging and amending dozens of proposals. 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 the company faces — even as the company tells Wall Street about a successful corporation that can afford to pay millions in salaries and benefits to its top executives,” it continues.

Baker adds that after all this bargaining and negotiating, the Times’ management has thus far “only” agreed to a guaranteed 2.75 percent annual raise.

“This is unacceptable,” he writes.

“It is long past time for your negotiators to come to the bargaining table with serious proposals and get this contract finished. The Times company is profitable; this year, as you know, it distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to shareholders and spent more than half a billion dollars to acquire new businesses. It is time the unionized workers who made so much of this possible be properly compensated for their efforts,” the letter continues.

“We know what our labor is worth: To demonstrate it, more than 1,000 of us have joined together in a pledge: We will walk out and stop work for 24 hours, on Thursday, December 8, if we do not have a deal for a complete and equitable contract by then,” it concludes.

The pledge, a separate document, lists the actual demands. They include “fair wages,” a non-biased “performance ratings system,” a “remote work policy,” no cuts to pensions, and an “investment that ensures our health care fund does not run at an unsustainable loss.”

The Times for its part doesn’t appear to be sweating this threat of a walkout.

“While we are disappointed that the NewsGuild is threatening to strike, we are prepared to ensure The Times continues to serve our readers without disruption,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mail.

“We remain committed to working with the NYT NewsGuild to reach a contract that we can all be proud of. Our current wage proposal offers significant increases,” they added.

Indeed, the spokesperson was very defensive of this “current” proposal.

“‘The majority of members of the bargaining unit would earn 50 percent or more in additional earnings over the life of the new contract than they would have if the old contract had continued. Moreover, our accompanying medical and retirement proposals offer sustainable, best-in-class options for Guild members,” they explained.

“For additional context, under our latest proposal, a reporter in the union making $120,000, which is slightly below the median base salary in the unit, would get about $33,000 in additional earnings during the life of the new contract — or 57 percent more than if the old contract had continued,” the spokesperson added.

However, the union doesn’t plan to back down.

In fact, the union is now encouraging Times’ readers to participate as well by not reading their edition of the paper on the 8th, and by sending their own letter to Levien and Sulzberger.

“We’re asking subscribers, loyal readers, union supporters, media workers and workers of different trades, to support us by sending a letter to Meredith Kopit Levien and A.G. Sulzberger, notifying them of your intent to support us, Times employees on December 8,” a note from the Guild reads.

“While we are not asking that you cancel your subscription, we do ask you to honor the walkout by not reading The Times that day, or using its other products, which all would not exist without our labor,” it continues.

Furthermore, the union is planning to picket outside the Times’ headquarters, according to New York magazine.

Also, the union is considering extending the strike.

“Obviously the next step, if we can’t get anywhere at the negotiating table, is to consider things like a strike authorization vote,” one union member told New York magazine.

As for the general public, many have responded to the union’s demands by laughing — particularly at their apparent belief that they’re “journalists.”

Look:

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