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New York Times Journalists Stage Historic 24-Hour Strike After Management And Union Failed To Reach Agreement | CNN Business

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A 24-hour strike at The New York Times, a historic demonstration in which more than 1,100 employees are expected to participate, began Thursday at midnight after management and the union representing the employees failed to reach an agreement. an agreement for a new contract after more than a year and a half of negotiation.

“It is disappointing that they are taking such drastic steps, given the clear commitment we have shown to negotiate our way to a contract that provides Times journalists with substantial pay increases, market-leading benefits, and flexible working conditions,” Meredith Kopit Levien. , Chairman and CEO of The Times, in an email to the company late Wednesday.

The New York NewsGuild, which represents journalists and other staff at The Times, said in a statement that the strike was “because the company failed to negotiate in good faith, reach a fair contract agreement with workers and he complied with their demands. ”

The act of protest, which has not been staged by the newspaper’s employees in decades, will leave many of its main desks unstaffed, creating a challenge for the news organization trusted by millions of readers.

An executive at The Times, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, acknowledged on Wednesday to CNN that the work stoppage would certainly create difficulties. But, the executive said, management has prepared for the time being and could rely on the newspaper’s other resources, such as its international staff who are largely non-union, to fill in the gaps.

Joe Kahn, executive editor of The Times, said in a note to staff: “We will produce a strong report on Thursday. But it will be more difficult than usual.”

Kopit Levien added in his email to the company that The Times has “plans to ensure that we meet our obligation to our readers and the general public by reporting the news as fully as possible during any disruption caused by a strike.”

But some staffers at The Times went as far as Wednesday to urge readers not to consume the outlet’s content during the strike.

“We are asking readers not to get involved in any [New York Times] platforms tomorrow and join us on the digital picket line,” Amanda Hess, a general critic for the paper, wrote on Twitter. “Read the local news. Listen to public radio. Make something out of a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak.”

The strike comes as the Gray Lady and New York’s NewsGuild remain at loggerheads over a number of issues, notably wages, amid layoffs and cutbacks in the media industry.

In recent weeks, CNN has laid off hundreds of employees, the Gannett newspaper chain has laid off 200 employees, NPR said it will need to find $10 million in savings and other news organizations have explored the need to cut budgets and freeze hiring.

The Times has maintained that it offered the union “significant raises”, but the union countered that the paper’s management “frequently misrepresents its own proposals”.

The Union Times, a newsletter published by the NewsGuild, described The Times’ wage concessions on Wednesday as “insignificant” and said management had “barely moved” on the issue.

The two sides have been negotiating since the last contract expired in March 2021. Last Friday, NewsGuild informed The Times about its plans to go on strike, a move aimed at putting pressure on management to offer additional concessions in negotiations. .

The union has asked The Times to meet in the middle on wage increases, but the paper believes the union started from an extreme position, making doing so impossible.

Both parties have worked throughout the week to avoid the 24-hour strike. But it was in vain.

Management at The Times had grown frustrated with the way the NewsGuild had tried to conduct negotiations and partly blamed the lack of progress.

“They refuse to meet in person,” the executive told CNN. “It is a really important point. I can’t stress it enough. We have negotiations on Zoom. There are about eight people from management, up to 18 people on the NewsGuild bargaining committee, and up to 200 union members watching as ‘observers.’

“The negotiations are essentially public,” continued the executive. “And that changes the whole dynamic of the negotiations. It becomes very performative and very theatrical. It is very difficult to do things. It’s like a show. And we need productive negotiations to reach an agreement.”

Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York, said in response: “Union democracy is crucial to union power. That is why we do not carry out negotiations behind closed doors, which the management continues to demand”.

“All members who will be affected by the decision made at the negotiating table should be aware of those discussions,” the representative added. “When Times management comes to the negotiating table with their insulting and disrespectful offers, they have to explain it to a room full of their own employees, and they hate it. The result of management’s public actions is the powerful strike that happens tomorrow.”

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