On Thursday, hundreds of journalists and other staffers with the New York Times began a 24-hour walkout strike in protest of union bargaining that has not produced a deal, the first large-scale strike for the NYT in over 40 years.
According to ABC News, representatives from The News Guild of New York, the union which represents the NYT staffers, previously threatened last week to stage a walkout with over 1,100 employees if a contract deal was not reached. Negotiations between the union and the paper have been ongoing since the last contract’s expiration in March of 2021.
The union first tweeted that it would begin its walkout at 12:01 A.M. on Thursday, declaring that the staffers “are now officially on work stoppage, the first of this scale at the company in 4 decades. It’s never an easy decision to refuse to do work you love, but our members are willing to do what it takes to win a better newsroom for all.”
Some of the issues that divided the union and the paper included wage increases and policies regarding ongoing remote work in the aftermath of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
In announcing that negotiations had failed and a deal had not been reached, the union placed the blame on the management of the paper, claiming that “We were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal, but management walked away from the table with five hours to go.”
By contrast, NYT spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha released a statement claiming that negotiations were still ongoing when the strike began.
“It is disappointing that they are taking such an extreme action when we are not at an impasse,” said Ha. She added that the company already had “solid plans in place” to deal with the strike and continue its workflow, which includes input from international journalists and other staffers who are not union members.
In another statement critical of the strike, NYT Deputy Managing Editor Cliff Levy described the strike as “puzzling,” and “an unsettling moment in negotiations over a new contract,” saying that it “comes despite intensifying efforts by the company to make progress.”
Levy said that, among other incentives, management has offered wage increases of 5.5 percent, followed by additional 3 percent hikes in 2023 and 2024. But union representatives were seeking pay raises of 10 percent.