United States experiences an unknown trade union effervescence since the late 1970s. One of his leading newspapers, The New York Times, It has experienced a couple of partial strikes since then, but none as massive as the one that will start 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 teleworking, according to sources close to the dialogue, have frustrated last-minute attempts to reach a “complete and equitable agreement”. , as defined by the union. The company has confirmed the mobilization, which will support approximately a fifth of the newspaper’s staff (5,000 employees, in 2021 data).
“We ask 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, referring to two of the NYT’s most popular services: the recipe website and the online game Wordle. Through the digital boycott of all platforms, the unionized workers of the The Gray Lady, as the newspaper is traditionally known, aspire to paralyze activity as much as possible to achieve their objectives: a new salary scale, with increases in line with inflation; the maintenance of pension plan policies and changes in performance evaluations.
In statements to the Associated Press agency, a spokeswoman for the company has assured that it is prepared “to guarantee that the Times keep serving our readers without interruptions”, although many of the conveners work in the last minute section of the web, the rapid reaction force. The company said its salary proposal included “significant increases” as well as “best-in-class” retirement and health insurance offers.
“We want our pensions intact. We want our healthcare to be funded. We want raises that reflect our contribution to the success of the company, but the NYT has given us food aid and excuses about financial uncertainty,” the union explained in a statement one day before the ultimatum expired, at midnight. this Wednesday. With regard to 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 buying Wordle y [el portal de información deportiva] The Athletic and allocated 150 million dollars to repurchase shares from its investors. And yet it continues to offer raises wages that are equivalent to cuts given record inflation,” adds the union, recalling “the 320 million dollars or more” of annual profits for the company.
Regarding the salary increase, the company offered 5.5% to the ratification of the agreement, followed by increases of 3% in 2023 and 2024, above the 2.2% in force until 2021. The union for its part raised 10% after signing, to compensate for “the salary increases not received in the last two years”, those of the pandemic. The union does not waive minimum conditions for new hires, in its opinion low cost compared to the high salaries of staff editors, many of whom earn six-figure annual income.
The fear of an economic slowdown that the Times as the negotiation ceiling is also behind the announcement of massive layoffs in another reference newspaper, the Washington Post, which will also close its Sunday supplement in January, as well as on the CNN television network. But the shock wave of the conflict in the NYT reverberates more than the impact of the hundred long mobilizations by local media, at the head of all of them indefinite strikes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, not to mention partial strikes in some twenty capitals throughout the country. None of them have 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, some 650 New Tech employees at the NYT created their own union, also under the NewsGuild umbrella. The reasons given for syndication since the pandemic are financial uncertainty and fear of media mergers, with the consequent downsizing.
In parallel to other unions in the service sector, the media have deployed all their firepower, the first of them, almost two years ago and with success, the magazine The New Yorker, who moved after being acquired by the Condé Nast group. In August, some 300 journalists from seven Reuters offices in the US called a 24-hour strike, the first in 30 years at the agency.