NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Times is planning a 24-hour walkout Thursday by hundreds of reporters and other employees, in what would be the first strike of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years.
Newsroom workers and other members of the NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with the ongoing negotiations since their last contract expires in March 2021. at 12:01 a.m. Thursday unless the two sides reach a contract agreement.
Negotiations took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the sides remained far apart on issues including wage increases and remote work policies.
On Wednesday evening the union said via Twitter that an agreement had not been reached and a walkout was possible. “We were prepared to work as long as it took to reach a good deal,” he said, “but the management left the table with five hours to go.”
“We know what we value,” added the union.
But New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in her statement that they were still negotiating when they were told that the strike was happening.
“It is disappointing that they have taken such a drastic step when we are in a critical situation,” he said.
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It is not clear how the publicity for the protest will be affected, but supporters of the protest include members of the fast live news desk, which includes the main news of the digital paper. Workers were preparing for that afternoon’s rally outside the newspaper’s offices near Times Square.
Rhoades Ha told The Associated Press that the company has “firm plans” to continue producing content, including relying on international journalists and other journalists who are not members of the organization.
In a note sent to union-represented workers Tuesday night, Deputy Managing Editor Cliff Levy called the planned strike “confusing” and “a volatile moment in new contract negotiations.” He said it would be the union’s first strike since 1981 and “comes despite trying to make progress for the company.”
But in the letter signed by more than 1,000 workers, the NewsGuild said management had been “dragging their feet” in negotiations for nearly two years and “time is running out to reach a good deal” by the end of the year.
NewsGuild also said the company told the workers plans to protest they won’t get paid during the trip. Members have also been asked to work extra hours to get work done before the strike, according to the union.
The New York Times noted other, shorter walkouts in recent years, including a half-day strike in August by a new union representing tech workers who say they are working unfairly.
In another move that both sides called significant, the company has rejected its proposal to replace the existing defined benefit plan with an enhanced 401(k) plan. The Times gave in rather than let the union choose between the two. The company also agreed to expand fertility treatment benefits.
Levy said the company also offered to raise wages by 5.5 percent when the contract was confirmed, followed by 3 percent increases in 2023 and 2024.
Stacy Cowley, a financial reporter and union representative, said the union wanted a 10 percent pay increase for its approval, which she said would make up for the increase it hasn’t received in the past two years.
He also said the union wants the contract to guarantee workers the option to work remotely at times, if their roles allow, but the company wants the right to bring workers back to the office permanently. Cowley said the Times required its staff to be in the office three days a week but many did not show up regularly due to informal protests.