“We’ll Get Our Editors Into This”: The New York Times Labor Struggle Is Devastating Newsroom

The The New York Times there has never been more subscribers pay, and paying staff has never been a bigger issue for the newspaper — just ask the editor. In a meeting with the Country desk last Tuesday, the executive editor Joe Kahn, a veteran of more than 20 years, admits the current labor standstill is a unique moment at Time, according to two reporters who attended and agreed that it was related to how protracted the negotiations were. Union members’ outrage over stalled contract negotiations has grown increasingly public as the New York Times Guild has pressured the organization, with Times Staff tweet their disappointment and more than 300 of them to send Email management about the effects of stagnant wages, as well as do title with one refuse to return to the office. Kahn said the company should pay employees more, according to two attendees; but, he added, he’s the editor, not the CEO. One reporter said of the comment: “There are so many things in this world that are true that you don’t say. “A sharp editor could have hit that line.”

That same day, the head Times‘The sales department employee was asked what she intended to do when she knew they were ready to serve. “No,” Ellen Pollock replied, according to two employees. Asked by her team if she would help them campaign for higher pay, Pollock said she did not feel it was appropriate to have any role in the contract negotiations; that she’s not particularly interested and doesn’t have a plan. Staff were so confused by her impatient response that they began drafting an open letter asking Pollock, who is known to be blunt and not afraid of brass, to communicate with people above her that the company’s approach is getting in the way of her employees. their ability to do their job. The letter was sent on Friday, according to a Times staff. (“Ellen responded to the letter and forwarded her team’s concerns to senior editors,” according to Times spokesman Danielle Rhoades Ha. When asked about what Kahn conveyed to members of the Country table, Rhoades Ha said more context was needed. “Joe has noted that although he is an editor rather than an executive, he is confident that company-wide management is the right fit and wants a deal that will provide a better contract. for our journalists.”)

Understandably, managers may feel restricted when it comes to union issues and traditionally steer clear of them. So the fact that employees are clearly looking to them for help shows the seriousness of the situation. “We are not stupid; we understand how power dynamics work and how capitalism works,” said the financial reporter Stacy Cowley, unit secretary and a member of the bargaining committee. “Saying this happened at the bargaining table, that we, your editors and managers, have nothing to do with it – it’s just an incentive strategy to stop things.” , Cowley added. “We have been at the same table for a year and a half. And it didn’t work, it didn’t work, so now we’re at the stage where we say we’re going to pull our editors into this. “

The Times Guild, which represents about 1,300 employees, has been involved in lengthy contract negotiations since their last contract expired in March 2021, but the amalgamation of factors has trigger a new level of engagement. But on the contrary past editorial office dispute often broken down along particular lines of thought, generation or job, pay inequality has become an internal movement, leaving even veterans and big names on the sidelines. . “This is the first time I have felt more invested and offended, and I am not the only one,” said one. Times reporter told me. The biggest factor is that employees have not received a contract raise for more than two years and inflation is eroding their wages. “That really affects people financially. I have a daughter in college,” Tom Coffey, a longtime editor on the union’s contract action committee. “So you have all these expenses going up and you have a paycheck that buys less and less every week.” (Rhoades Ha notes Times “Continually go”[es] above and beyond what our contract requires to compensate our employees. Last year, we also gave our members millions in salary increases and off-contract bonuses. “)

Meanwhile, Times earlier this year made $550 million cash for a sports news website, The Athletic, as part of its push to get from eight million to 10 million subscribers by 2025. Then, hitting that goal a few years early, the company ty announced a new goal: at least 15 million subscribers by the end of 2027. Time, in extended mode, also get Wordle for an undisclosed price — in “The low seven,” follow Times-This year.

Financial realities for employees are reason for some to pay more attention to what’s happening at the bargaining table, meetings that used to be chores to attend, but Zoom provided an opportunity. new. “You can now come in on your lunch break or while waiting for a call. It’s very easy to see what’s going on and what’s going on has surprised a lot of people,” one person said. Times annunciator. It’s not just the company, despite how well it’s doing financially, is proposing low wages, smaller contributions to the health program and pension cuts, as Guild members say. (Rhoades Ha claims the company’s proposal “will provide medical benefits greater than what employees are entitled to today” and their proposal to move unit members to the company’s 401k plan from Guild’s adjustable pension plan is “about giving a better plan with higher returns and more flexibility for employees, not cutting costs.”)

“There was a feeling among the employees who had been paying attention to the negotiations that the company’s negotiating team was disrespectful and didn’t value the press in the way that other parts of the company at least demanded,” reporter said. (“This is clearly wrong,” says Rhoades Ha. Times has “reinforced our commitment to journalism and journalists with an unprecedented level of investment” as their competitors have slashed editorial costs.)

Several reporters said they were dismayed to witness the company’s hired guns talking to their colleagues. “People don’t expect The The New York Times that they know to act that way,” one person said. “The financial part of it is really affecting people in a very real way,” said another, “and the firing tone of the management is really affecting the ability to do a good job. of everyone”. Will it lead to a warning, like New York magazine suggestions earlier this month is a possibility — two employees with whom I spoke suggested that talk of a strike was overblown at this stage, and that the union did not seek to organize a strike. — inner conflict Times is coming with a head. I have told a number of reporters and newsroom veterans who have personally reached out to the company’s top executives in the hopes of persuading them to change. Times‘negotiation stance.

According to sports reporters and member units Kevin Draper, The Guild’s current proposal is to increase it by 8% annually over 4 years, along with an adjustment to the cost of living, which they say will increase by about 40%. The guild argued that this was not too much to ask from a company report adjusted operating profit of more than $76 million for the last fiscal quarter alone, get a raise its dividend payments to shareholders this year, and has increase compensation for some top officers. “If top executives and shareholders participate The The New York Times“Financial success, more than 1,400 daily paper workers should also share,” says Draper. NewsGuild’s proposal “would amount to more than $200 million in additional costs over the life of the contract” and “make it difficult to sustain our investment in journalism,” Rhoades Ha said. “We are offering a 10% salary increase: 4% on approval of a new contract and 3% increase both in 2023 and 2024,” she said, as well as a “2.5% retroactive bonus for time recognition. that the employee has worked for since the old contract expired in March 2021”. According to the old contract, it was ratified in December 2017, union members receive a 2% annual increase. And because Times is where people sometimes spend their careers, there are reporters who, during this round of negotiations, are remembering the sacrifices they’ve made in the past for the company, such as a pay cut and salary cuts made during the financial crisis to help Times overcome the painful period. Last year, Times generated total revenue of $2.1 billion. Rhoades Ha notes the company’s entire net income last year was $220 million.

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