The United States is experiencing a union ferment not seen since the late 1970s. One of his most important newspapers, The New York Times, It has seen a few partial strikes since then, but none as massive as the one set to begin tonight at midnight, for 24 hours, by the union that brings together more than 1,100 newspaper workers, including hundreds of editors. After negotiating a new agreement a year and a half ago, when the last one expired, conflicting positions on the salary increase and the regulation of telecommuting, according to sources close to the dialogue, led to last-minute efforts to “full and fair agreement”. , as defined by the union. The company confirmed the mobilization, which will support around a fifth of the newspaper’s staff (5,000 employees, in 2021 data).
“We are asking readers to join us on the digital picket line. Read the local news. Listen to public radio. Do something with a cookbook. Break your streak on Wordle,” Amanda Hess, editor of the newspaper and number two from NewsGuild of New York, the organizing union, citing two of the NYT’s most popular services: the recipe site and the online game Wordle. Through the digital boycott of all platforms, the union workers of the The gray lady, as the paper is traditionally known, strives to paralyze activity as much as possible to achieve their goals: a new salary scale, with increases in line with inflation; maintaining pension plan policies and changes in performance evaluations.
In statements to the Associated Press agency, a company spokesman assured that he was prepared “to guarantee that the Times continue to serve our readers without interruption”, although many of the conveners work in the last-minute section of the web, the rapid response force. The company said its salary proposal includes “significant increases” as well as “best-in-class” retirement and health insurance offers.
“We want our pensions intact. We want our health care to be funded. We want raises that reflect our contribution to the success of the company, but the NYT gave us food aid and excuses about financial uncertainty,” the union explained in a statement one day before the ultimatum expired at midnight. this wednesday. As for salaries, the union, represented by the powerful media The NewsGuild, demanded a minimum salary of 65,000 dollars a year (about 62,000 euros) for new hires. “This year the NYT spent millions of dollars to promote Wordle and [el portal de información deportiva] The Athletics and allocated 150 million dollars to buy back shares from its investors. And yet it keeps offering increase wages that are equivalent to reductions given record inflation,” adds the union, recalling “the 320 million dollars or more” of annual profits for the company.
As for the salary increase, the company offered 5.5% for the ratification of the agreement, followed by increases of 3% in 2023 and 2024, on top of the 2.2% that was in effect until 2021. The union, in turn, raised 10% after signing, to compensate for “the salary increases not received in the last two years”, those of the pandemic. The union is not waiving minimum conditions for new hires, which it considers low costs compared to the high salaries of staff editors, many of whom earn six-figure annual incomes.
The fear of an economic slowdown that the Times since ceiling of the negotiation is also behind the announcement of massive layoffs in another reference newspaper, the Washington Post, which also closes its Sunday supplement in January, as well as on the CNN television network. But the shockwave of the conflict in the NYT reverberates more than the impact of the hundred long mobilizations by local media, headed by all of them indefinite strikes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, not to mention partial strikes in some twenty capital cities across the country. None of them received the media attention that the newspaper on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
In 2020, more than 1,800 journalists joined the industry’s largest NewsGuild and Writers Guild unions, up from 1,500 the year before. In April 2021, around 650 New Tech employees at the NYT formed their own union, also under the NewsGuild umbrella. The reasons for syndication since the pandemic are financial uncertainty and fear of media mergers, with the resulting downsizing.
Parallel to other trade unions in the service sector, the media deployed all their firepower, the first of which, almost two years ago and with success, the magazine The New Yorker, who moved after he was acquired by the Condé Nast group. In August, about 300 journalists from seven Reuters offices in the US called a 24-hour strike, the first in 30 years at the agency.