As of Monday, more than 1,300 New York Times (NYT) employees have reportedly signed a pledge refusing to go back to the office, even for three days a week.
The pledge is part of a dispute between the NewsGuild journalists union and the upper management of the NYT, largely over wages, according to the New York Post. Members of the Times Tech Guild and the Wirecutter union also signed the pledge, the outlet noted.
“People are livid,” Tom Coffey, who has been an editor at the NYT for 25 years, reportedly told the NY Post. The issue is that employees are having to return to work during a time of record inflation, which makes transport, transit, clothing and buying food for work lunches significantly more expensive despite no salary increases, Coffey noted, according to the outlet.
NYT management is telling reporters covering our contract fight that its wage proposal “would offer contractual increases of 10 percent over the remaining two and a half years of the new contract.”
— Stacy Cowley (@StacyCowley) September 12, 2022
The three-day in-office work environment is apparently not a mandatory request, “but they really do ‘expect’ you to be back in the office three days a week,” Coffey continued, according to the outlet. A spokesperson for the NYT confirmed there is no fixed or mandatory amount of days employees have to be in the office, adding that “we continue to believe that a hybrid work environment best suits the New York Times at this moment,” the NY Post reported.
Some NYT employees have taken to Twitter to vent their seeming frustration, with one claiming “the [NYT] is giving employees branded lunch boxes this week as a return-to-office perk. We want respect and a fair contract instead — so I’m working from home this week along with 1,300 of my [NYT Guild] and [NYT Guild Tech] colleagues, with support from [the Wirecutter union].” (RELATED: New CNN Head Admits He Considers Himself A ‘Roadside Bomb’ When Employees Mess Up)
The wage negotiating committee reportedly met for a bargaining session Aug. 24 and offered a 4% pay hike. Wage negotiations were stalled until other issues were resolved, such as adding Juneteenth, Veterans Day and Indigenous Peoples Day to the calendar, the NY Post continued. The NewsGuild is demanding an 8% raise and a cost-of-living increase of 5.25%, and that all workers who can complete their job remotely may continue to do so until July 2023, the outlet noted.
The reported remote work pushback is the latest issue facing the NYT. In August, the NewsGuild released a report finding the company allegedly gave racial minority employees significantly lower performance reviews over a three-year period.