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

New York
CNN affairs

A 24-hour strike at The New York Times, a historic demonstration expected to involve more than 1,100 workers, began at midnight Thursday after management and the union representing workers failed to agree on a new strike after more than six months. contract. negotiating for a year and a half.

“It’s disappointing that they’re taking such drastic action given the clear commitment we’ve shown to pushing our way to a contract that will provide Times journalists with substantial pay raises, industry-leading benefits and flexible benefits,” said Meredith Kopit Levien. said The Times president and chief executive in an email to the company on Wednesday night.

The New York NewsGuild, which represents journalists and other employees of The Times, said in a statement that the strike was “due to the company’s failure to negotiate in good faith, to establish a fair contract with the workers achieve and meet their demands.”

The protest action, which has not been carried out by newspaper employees for decades, will cause many of the major desks to become empty, posing a challenge to the news organization that millions of readers rely on.

A Times executive, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, admitted to CNN on Wednesday that the work stoppage would certainly cause problems. But, the director said, management has prepared for this point and can rely on the newspaper’s other resources, such as its international staff, largely ununionized, to fill the gaps.

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

Kopit Levien added in her email to the company that The Times “has plans to ensure we fulfill our obligation to our readers and the general public by reporting the news as fully as possible through disruptions caused by a strike .”

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

“We ask readers not to engage with it [New York Times] platforms tomorrow and stand on the digital picket line with us!” Amanda Hess, a major critic for the paper, wrote on Twitter. “Read local news. Listen to public radio. Make something out of a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak.

The strike comes as the Gray Lady and the NewsGuild of New York continue to disagree on a number of issues, particularly wages, against a backdrop of layoffs and cuts in the media industry.

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

The Times has maintained it has offered the guild “significant raises”, but the union countered that the paper’s management has “often misrepresented its own proposals”.

The Union Times, a newsletter published by the NewsGuild, described The Times wage concessions as “paltry” on Wednesday and said management was “barely budging” on the matter.

The two sides have been negotiating since the last contract expired in March 2021. Last Friday, the NewsGuild informed The Times of its plans for a strike, a move to put pressure on management to make additional concessions during negotiations.

The union has asked The Times to hold a mid-term meeting on wage increases, but the newspaper believes the union started from an extreme point of view, making this a non-starter.

Both sides have been working all week to avert the 24-hour strike. But to no avail.

The Times management had grown frustrated with the way NewsGuild was trying to conduct negotiations and blamed it in part for the lack of progress.

“They refuse to meet in person,” the director told CNN. “It is a very important point. I can’t stress it enough. We have negotiations about Zoom. There are about eight people from management, as many as 18 people on the NewsGuild’s negotiating committee, and as many as 200 union members watching as ‘observers’.”

“Negotiations are essentially public,” the executive continued. “And that changes the whole dynamic of negotiations. It becomes very performative and very theatrical. It’s really hard to get things done. It’s like a show. And we need productive negotiations to get to a deal.”

Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York, said in response: “Democracy in the Union is critical to union power. That is why we do not conduct negotiations behind closed doors, which management continues to demand.”

“All members affected by the decision made at the negotiating table should be aware of those discussions,” the representative added. “When Times management comes to the negotiating table with their abusive and disrespectful offers, they have to explain it to a room full of their own employees – and they hate it. The result of the management’s public actions is the strong strike that will take place tomorrow.”

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