New York Times braces for 24-hour newsroom strike, walkout by hundreds of journalist, employees

NEW YORK — The New York Times is preparing for a 24-hour strike by hundreds of journalists and other employees Thursday, in what would be the first such strike at the newspaper in more than 40 years.

Newsroom staff and other members of The NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with the negotiations that have dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more than 1,100 workers would implement a 24-hour work stoppage at 12:01 am 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 wage increases and remote work measures.

On Wednesday evening, the union announced via Twitter that no agreement had been reached and the strike was taking place. “We were willing to work until a fair deal was struck,” it said, “but management left the table five hours before closing.”

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

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

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

It was unclear how Thursday’s reporting would be affected, but supporters of the strike include members of the fast-paced live newsroom, which covers breaking news for the digital newspaper. Staffers were planning a rally outside the newspaper’s offices near Times Square that afternoon.

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

In a note sent Tuesday night to staff represented by the guild, deputy editor Cliff Levy called the proposed strike “puzzling” and “a disturbing moment in the negotiations for a new contract.” He said it was the union’s first strike since 1981 and “comes despite intensified efforts by the company to make progress”.

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

The NewsGuild also said the company has told workers who plan to go on strike that they will not be paid for the duration of the strike. According to the union, members were also asked to work overtime to get work done before the strike.

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

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

Levy said the company also offered to increase wages by 5.5% upon ratification of the contract, followed by a 3% increase in 2023 and 2024. That would be an increase from the 2.2% annual increases in the expired contract.

Stacy Cowley, a financial reporter and union representative, said the union is targeting a 10% pay rise upon ratification, which she says would make up for pay increases not received over the past two years.

She also said the union wanted the contract to guarantee employees the ability to work remotely at times if their role permitted, but the company wanted the right to call employees back to the office full-time. Cowley said the Times has required its staff to be in the office three days a week, but many have turned up less frequently for informal protests.


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Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. New York Times braces for 24-hour newsroom strike, walkout by hundreds of journalist, employees

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