A large group of journalists and staff members from The New York Times union staged a 24-hour walkout after The Times failed to meet their demand for fair wages and other significant benefits like pensions and healthcare.
Employees held a rally in front of the Times building to protest in light of the newspaper’s recent acquisitions of the world-famous word game Wordle and a subscription-based sports website, The Athletic, in a transaction worth millions of dollars.
The employees are demanding a contract that includes fair wages that keep up with the current inflation. “We’re here fighting for a base salary of $65,000. It’s actually really amazing that for The New York Times, there are people whose wages are around $47,000. Our security guards only get paid $50,000 a year, when two weeks ago, they disarmed a man who tried to enter a building with a sword. So to me, it’s really ridiculous,” says Joyce Chang, 29, who works in the advertising and marketing department at The Times.
“I never knew until recently, what it could mean, as a journalist, to be involved in union work. To have our own union, it matters so much.”
Staff members at The Times have not had a working contract in over 20 months since negotiations began. According to many employees at the Times, they have the option of choosing between a pension or the 401K. However, since management announced it was taking away the pension citing budgetary cuts due to the inflation, employees are left with no option.
Nancy Wartik, 60, an audience moderator, who has worked there for 15 years says she’s recently joined the union’s activities. “I never knew until recently, what it could mean, as a journalist, to be involved in union work. To have our own union, it matters so much.”
Over 1,100 union members committed to honoring the one-day strike and hundreds were in attendance.
Haley Willis, one of the lead organizers, says they have already seen movement on the bargaining table since they announced the 24-hour strike. “The company made a few concessions that they had been fighting us on for months,” she says.
So what are some of the next steps for the union?
Willis says, “[New York Times management] may push us to the point of having a strike authorization vote. That’s a vote within the union, which if passed, gives the bargaining committee authority to call for an open-ended strike.”
An open-ended strike could mean that the union would go on a formal strike indefinitely till the company meets its demands. Further negotiations are scheduled to take place next Tuesday.
The New York Times Guild is a part of the NewsGuild of New York, which is the largest local organization representing nearly 6,000 journalists and other media employees at New York-based media organizations.