Prompted by the Newspaper Guild, New York Times union employees carried out a brief walkout on Tuesday.
At 3:35 pm, as many as 400 employees stood outside the Midtown building to demonstrate their message of discontent. The walkout followed a meeting where 200 staff members attempted to hash out a collective bargaining contract to no avail.
Many are puzzled that the union employees have gone the last 18 months without being able to reach a collective bargaining agreement, as the Times has historically and loudly favored unions. So long as they don’t have to deal with them, it seems.
The disputes between the Guild and management are over compensation. Negotiations are stalled over matters of employees’ salaries and pensions, and those regarding the Times’ proposal to have separate contracts for digital and print journalists.
Grant Glickson, chairman of the Times’ division of the Newspaper Guild of New York, sent an email to NYT employees urging them to participate in the walkout in an effort to achieve their mission of getting what they want most:
It is long past time for the company and its negotiators to pay attention to what matters most of all to us. Together, we can make sure that happens. Join in, as beginning today, we will repeat our message until they hear it: Nothing less than fair wages and benefits.
This is not the first protest from the Times employees this year. They held a demonstration while the annual shareholders’ meeting was taking place, as well a silent protest outside a news conference with senior editors. A slew of videos articulating the union members expectations have also been circulating.
What union members don’t seem to fully appreciate is that the newspaper industry has been struggling since the dawn of the digital era to come up with new and innovative ways to turn a profit. When confronted about salary raises, Bernard Plum, the lawyer representing the Times management said, “This is a declining industry and a declining business.” With even major newspapers wondering how to avoid bankruptcy in the coming years, the Times’ proposed pension cuts should not come as a shock. Yet union members say they “will accept nothing less” than their demands.
The editors of the Times claim to love organized labor… except when it affects their business.