Over one-thousand unionized employees at The New York Times threatened the newspaper’s executives Friday with a walkout due to their grievances on wages and pensions.
The New York Times Guild, a union consisting of 1,300 New York Times employees, alleged in a letter to publisher A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien that management has been “dragging its feet” by reportedly proposing to slash their company benefits and halt wage raises. They have thus demanded that executives sign a contract by Dec. 8 committing to their requests for higher wages and reportedly to protect their pensions, healthcare and retirement plan.
The union further demanded a remote work policy and a “performance ratings system” that protects against the alleged biases experienced by certain staff members.
“After 20 months of negotiations, enough is enough: Today, more than 1,000 @NYTimesGuild members pledged to walk out if @nytimes does not agree to a complete and fair contract by Dec. 8,” the union wrote via Twitter Friday. “We want our pension intact. We want our health care funded. We want raises that reflect our contribution to the company’s success, but the @nytimes has given us lunch boxes and excuses about economic uncertainty.”
In 2022, the @nytimes spent millions of dollars to purchase Wordle and The Athletic and allocated $150 million in stock buybacks to its investors. And yet it is still offering wage “increases” that amount to pay cuts during record-high inflation.
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) December 2, 2022
The union alleged that The Times has committed a larger amount of their finances to profitable investments, such as purchasing the game Wordle and The Athletic. They also alleged that they allocated $150 million in stock buybacks to its investors, while offering wage increases that could lead to “pay cuts.”
Meanwhile, Sulzberger and Kopit Levien received significant pay raises in 2021, an SEC proxy statement showed, according to the Intelligencer. Sulzberger’s compensation rose nearly 50% last year, from $2.4 million to $3.6 million, the outlet reported. Kopiet Levien’s salary reportedly grew from $4 million to $5.8 million.
“In 2022, the @nytimes spent millions of dollars to purchase Wordle and The Athletic and allocated $150 million in stock buybacks to its investors. And yet it is still offering wage “increases” that amount to pay cuts during record-high inflation,” the union wrote. “A company on track for an annual operating profit of $320 million or more should be paying its employees a minimum of $65,000 a year. The @nytimes thinks this is unreasonable. The @NYTimesGuild does not.”
A company on track for an annual operating profit of $320 million or more should be paying its employees a minimum of $65,000 a year. The @nytimes thinks this is unreasonable. The @NYTimesGuild does not.
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) December 2, 2022
“We have tried time and time again—through petitions, individual letters to leadership and a mass stay-at-home action—to get the company to listen to its employees,” the document wrote. “Time is running out to reach a fair contract this year. Now we, the members of The New York Times Guild, have had enough. We want a fair deal—and we want it now.” (RELATED: ‘What The F*ck Are We Doing Here?’: NYT Reporter Secretly Recorded Saying Indoctrinated ‘Woke’ Colleagues Are Ruining The Paper)
A walkout threatened in the union’s letter has not occurred at The Times since 1978, according to the Intelligencer. Reporters told the outlet they are willing to picket outside the building and refuse to work. Senior staff editor Tom Coffey, who has worked at the Times since 1997, said the current atmosphere is the “worst” he has seen it.
“Obviously the next step, if we can’t get anywhere at the negotiating table, is to consider things like a strike authorization vote,” reporter Michael Powell told the Intelligencer. He added that “none of us want to step into the terra incognita if this isn’t seen as a significant warning shot,” according to the outlet.
Film critic Manohla Dargis told the outlet Times employees are “laborers and we need to get paid for the work.”
“The paper represents and advocates on behalf of so many good and noble values, but I think the paper sometimes forgets that we are not here as priests and nuns having committed ourselves to Christ for no money. We are laborers and we need to get paid for the work, and I think if you’re going to advocate for good, you have to actually be good as well,” Dargis said, according to the outlet.
An SEC proxy statement shows that Sulzberger and Kopit Levien witnessed significant pay raises in their salaries in comparison to 2021, Intellgencer reported. Sulzberger’s salary rose nearly 50 percent this year, rising from $2.4 million to $3.6 million. Kopiet Levien’s salary grew from $4 million to $5.8 million.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the Times, told the Daily Caller on Friday that they are “committed” to reach an agreement with the union and have already agreed to raise their wages and reward about 50% more in additional earnings.
“While we are disappointed that the NewsGuild is threatening to strike, we are prepared to ensure The Times continues to serve our readers without disruption.We remain committed to working with the NYT NewsGuild to reach a contract that we can all be proud of. Our current wage proposal offers significant increases. The majority of members of the bargaining unit would earn 50 percent or more in additional earnings over the life of the new contract than they would have if the old contract had continued. Moreover, our accompanying medical and retirement proposals offer sustainable, best-in-class options for Guild members.”
“For additional context, under our latest proposal, a reporter in the union making $120,000, which is slightly below the median base salary in the unit, would get about $33,000 in additional earnings during the life of the new contract — or 57 percent more than if the old contract had continued,” the statement concluded. “A reporter in the union making $160,000 would get about $44,000 in additional earnings during the life of the new contract or 108 percent more than if the prior contract had continued.”