New York Times employees are openly discussing the possibility of a work stoppage as talks with management are reportedly deadlocked over union demands to raise wages.
The guild representing the newspaper’s journalists also wants management to commit to an 8% annual salary increase year-on-year for a four-year period.
But management retaliated with a significantly smaller increase — a 4% increase for the first year followed by a 2% increase for the next two years, according to Insider.
Management also offered additional 1% merit-based salary increases.
The labor dispute is heightening tensions between rank-and-file Times workers and management, who are at odds over the newspaper’s back-to-office demands.
The Post reported earlier this month that more than 1,300 newsroom staff had signed a pledge swearing to defy the executive’s edict to return to their Midtown Manhattan cubicles for at least three days by week.
A New York Times Company spokesperson told Insider that the union’s demands are “far beyond the bounds of any organization, especially in such an uncertain economic climate.”
If management gives in to the guild’s demands for higher wages, it would jeopardize the company’s ability to invest more in the newspaper’s journalism, according to the spokesman.
The union, which is also seeking cost-of-living adjustments on top of its wage demands, rejected management’s offer, saying the proposed hikes amounted to a pay cut given soaring inflation, Insider reports.
Kevin Draper, sports reporter for The Times, told Insider the union’s demands were “eminently reasonable”. He also noted that the publicly traded company paid out handsome rewards to executives as well as dividends to shareholders.
New York Times Guild negotiators have reminded management that Gray Lady’s finances are sound considering the publication has 10 million paying subscribers.
The New York Times Company has also tapped into its mountain of cash reserves to make high-profile acquisitions, including the all-sports news site The Athletic as well as the popular game Wordle.
Last month, news site Axios reported that The Times generated $1.4 billion in subscription revenue for 2021, in addition to $497.5 million in ad revenue over the same period.
Axios also reported that the Times planned to “aggressively expand” its advertising business across its bundled products, including Wordle, which has been a powerful contributor to the publication’s online reader engagement.
Times employees said the threat of a work stoppage may be the only tool they have left to force management to offer a more generous pay rise.
“I think people feel like management only listens if everyone is beside themselves and ready to go out, so if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. will have to,” Florida-based Times correspondent Frances Robles, who is also a member of the union’s bargaining committee, told Insider.
Robles told Insider that while she personally doesn’t want a strike, more hawkish members are campaigning for a so-called “strike authorization vote,” which gives the bargaining committee the discretion to declare a strike stoppage. work if deemed necessary.
Despite the shortcomings in their position, there are signs of progress in the talks. Robles praised management for caving in to a key union demand — tying raises to a reporter’s actual salary instead of basing it on the minimum wage of their peer group.
“I took it as a very important step,” Robles said.
“I think they’re getting the message that the union of the past that was silent and would turn around and not say much is no longer the case.”
A Times spokesperson told Insider, “We are actively working with the NYT NewsGuild to reach a collective bargaining agreement that financially rewards our journalists for their contributions to The Times’ success, is fiscally responsible as the company remains in growth mode. , and continues to consider the industry landscape.
The spokesperson added that the newspaper is “proud to offer the highest compensation and most generous benefits for our industry and we are also proud to have a large and growing newsroom.”
“While we have experienced a remarkable digital transformation, we have still not returned to the net income levels we achieved in the years before the Great Recession when we were a larger company,” the spokesperson said.
New York Post