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

New York
CNN Business

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

“Given the clear commitment we’ve shown to negotiate an agreement that provides Times journalists with substantial pay raises, market-leading benefits and flexible working conditions, it’s disappointing that they’re taking such drastic action,” Meredith Kobit Levien, The Times’ president and chief executive, said in an email to the company Wednesday night.

The NewsGuild of New York, which represents the journalists and other staff in the Times, said, “The reason for this walkout is the failure to negotiate in good faith, not reach a fair contract agreement with the workers, and to meet their demands.”

The strike, which has not been staged by employees at the Journal of the Record for decades, will see many of its key desks cut staff, creating a challenge for a news organization relied on by millions of readers.

An executive at The Times, who requested anonymity to speak publicly, acknowledged to CNN on Wednesday that the strike would certainly create difficulties. But the executive said management is ready for now and can rely on the newspaper’s other resources, such as its international staff who are not part of a union, to fill the gaps.

Joe Kahn, managing editor of The Times, said in a note to staff: “We will make a strong statement on Thursday. But it will be more difficult than usual.

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In his email to Levien, Kobit said, “The Times plans to ensure that we meet our obligations to our readers and the public by reporting the news as thoroughly as possible through the disruption caused by the strike.”

But some staffers at The Times urged readers not to consume the store’s content during Wednesday’s walkout.

“Readers are requested not to indulge in anything [New York Times] Join us on the digital picket lines tomorrow! ” Amanda Hess, the paper’s biggest critic, wrote on Twitter. “Read the local news. Listen to public radio. Make something from a cookbook. Break your wordlay streak.

At a rally Thursday afternoon outside The Times offices in Times Square, dozens of union members held picket signs, handed out pamphlets and demanded better wages.

New York Times reporter Nicole Hanna-Jones speaks outside the Times' offices in New York, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.  Hundreds of New York Times journalists and other employees staged a 24-hour walkout outside the Times' offices, frustrated by months of dragged-out contract negotiations in the paper's biggest labor dispute in more than 40 years.

“We make paper, we make a profit!” The crowd chanted.

The strike comes as New York’s Gray Lady and News Guild clash over several issues, particularly wages, amid layoffs and cuts in the media industry.

In recent weeks, CNN laid off hundreds of employeesNewspaper chain Gannett cut 200 jobs, NPR said it needed to find $10 million in savings, and Other news organizations They explored the need to streamline budgets and freeze hiring.

The Times has said it will offer “significant increases” to the guild, but the union countered that the newspaper’s management “frequently misrepresents its own proposals”.

The Union Times, a newsletter published by the News Guild, on Wednesday described The Times’ wage offers as “paltry” and said management had “hardly budged” on the issue.

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The two sides have been negotiating since the last contract expired in March 2021. Last Friday, News Guild informed the Times of its plans to walk out, which is aimed at pressuring management to make more concessions in negotiations.

The union has asked The Times to meet the wage increases neutrally, but the newspaper believes the union is starting from a serious position, not a startup in doing so.

Both sides have worked all week to avoid a 24-hour strike. But it didn’t work.

The Times management was frustrated with how the News Guild had approached the negotiations and partly blamed it for the lack of progress.

“They refuse to meet in person,” the executive told CNN. “This is a very important point. I can’t stress it enough. We have negotiations on Zoom. There are eight or so people from management, 18 people from the News Guild bargaining team, and 200 union members watching as ‘spectators.’

“Negotiations are essentially public,” the executive continued. “It changes the whole dynamic of the negotiations. It becomes very performative and very dramatic. It’s very difficult to get things done. It’s like a show. And we need creative negotiations to reach an agreement.”

Susan DiCarava, president of the News Guild of New York, responded, “Union democracy is critical to union power. That’s why we don’t hold closed-door talks, which the administration keeps demanding.

“All members affected by the decision taken at the bargaining table should be privy to those discussions,” the representative added. “When the Times management comes to the bargaining table with their insulting and disrespectful offers, they have to explain it to a room full of their own employees – they hate it. Tomorrow’s powerful strike is the result of the management’s public actions.

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