New York Times employees defy management during strike: ‘We’re fighting for a fair contract’

Reporters and editors at The New York Times staged a 24-hour walkout as talks with management failed ahead of Thursday’s strike, which saw hundreds of workers rally on the streets of the Big Apple.

“We’ve been fighting for a fair deal, we’ve been at the negotiating table for 20 months and we still don’t have one,” said Times reporter Larry Buchanan. “We’re on strike here because we want a fair contract. We haven’t had a raise in two years.”

Times and union members have consistently argued over the wages and bonuses offered to employees, as well as the telecommuting policy and the company’s performance evaluation system. One Times employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he worked as a newspaper assistant for six years in or around New York City without the salary he needed to live.

The New York Times union is calling on readers to join a “digital picket line” as the strike begins.

The employee added that the $65,000 wage for all employees was the most important requirement for successful negotiations with the company, which took place over 40 sessions over 20 months.

A New York Times employee picketed in Manhattan on Thursday.

The New York Times Guild, the union arm of the New York NewsGuild, said in a statement Wednesday that the newspaper’s offer did not meet the “economic momentum” and was “far behind” inflation and average wage growth, at least across the United States. 1,100 workers signed a 24-hour strike pledge. The strike is rare for Times employees to rally for more compensation and benefits.

Kevin Draper, Sports investigative reporter, is a member of the Guild’s Contract Action Team, tasked with bringing the trades committee up to speed on employee priorities.

“We feel that New York Times management is not making proposals that recognize our value to the Times or the company’s strong position,” Draper said.

According to Draper, strong work by Guild members allowed management to raise wages, offer stock buybacks and increase stock dividends, while “editors, reporters, security guards, temps, photographers ” remains unrewarded.


“That’s what they do with The New York Times,” Draper said.

New York Times graphics editor Larry Buchanan attended Thursday's performance.

New York Times graphics editor Larry Buchanan attended Thursday’s performance.

Draper rejected the idea that management was “deliberately” bargaining in bad faith, but he doesn’t believe they made reasonable offers either.

“Whatever their beliefs were, it didn’t lead them to put forward decent proposals,” he said. “It’s a shame to feel like we’re being forced to leave. Most of us love our jobs and would rather just do our own thing.”

Management in the New York Times complained to the press that the Guild does not want to negotiate in person because the union prefers Zoom sessions so that all members can witness bargaining attempts. According to Buchanan, the “silver lining” of the COVID pandemic was that Zoom became normalized and Guild members could witness trading sessions firsthand.

“We were able to see what was going on and see how the process was going,” Buchanan said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a wonderful thing, and that’s partly why you see so many people coming together for a fair deal because we’ve been able to see what’s behind it. “Scene process. The idea that it will go faster if we just do it behind closed doors is not true.”


Sports reporter Jenny Vrentas, who spent the morning outside Times headquarters handing out flyers, agreed that bargaining should be open to all participants. He said management “didn’t seek a fair, full deal” and Guild members saw the situation with their own eyes.

Hundreds of New York Times employees went on strike on Thursday.

Hundreds of New York Times employees went on strike on Thursday.

“We’re a democratic union, we want all our members to be a part of it and know what’s going on, so it’s been a big deal for us to witness the negotiations. It’s not just at the Trade Committee table, it’s hundreds of us,” Vrentas said. “I think that played a big role in where we are now because people see how management responds, how they slow down negotiations and refuse to bargain in good faith.”

Times journalists went on strike for less than a day in 1981. The 1978 strike was the most significant, lasting 88 days and halting publication of the paper. More recently, in 2018, there was a brief march in protest against the destruction of the photocopier.

Joe Kahn, executive editor of The Times, said he was disappointed by the resignations and rejected the idea that talks between the NewsGuild and management had reached an impasse.

“While the company and NewsGuild differ on a number of issues, we will continue to exchange proposals and reach an agreement,” he said.

New York Times staff will hold a rally with the founder of the 1619 Project in front of the headquarters on Thursday afternoon. Nicole Hannah-Jones plans to speak at the event.

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