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New York Times staffers speak out against management amid strike: ‘We’re fighting for a fair contract’

Reporters and editors of The New York Timesspoke out during a 24-hour walkout as negotiations with management failed to produce results prior to Thursday's strike, which saw hundreds of employees rally in the streets of the Big Apple.  

"We’re fighting for a fair contract, we’ve been at the bargaining table for 20 months, and we don’t have a contract yet," Times journalist Larry Buchanan told Fox News Digital. "We’re out here striking because we want a fair contract. We haven’t had a wage raise in two years." 

Times and union members have continually sparred on proposed wages and bonuses for employees, as well as remote work policies and the company’s performance rating system. One employee of the Times, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that she worked as an assistant for the paper for six years without the salary needed to sustain a living in or around New York City.  

The employee added that a $65,000-floor salary for all staffers was the most important condition needed to have a successful negotiation with the company, which has been occurring for 20 months across 40 sessions. 

A New York Times staffer pickets in Manhattan on Thursday.

A New York Times staffer pickets in Manhattan on Thursday. (Fox News Digital)

The New York Times Guild, a union part of the NewsGuild of New York, said in a Wednesday statement that the paper’s proposal failed to meet "the economic moment," and was "far behind" inflation and average wage gains across the U.S. At least 1,100 employees have signed the pledge to strike for the 24-hour period. The strike is notable because of how rarely Times employees have rallied to receive greater compensation and benefits. 

Kevin Draper, an investigative reporter for the Sports section, is a member of the Guild’s Contract Action Team that is tasked with keeping the bargaining committee up to speed with staffer priorities. 

"We feel that the New York Times management, they are not making proposals that recognize our value to the Times or the strong position the company is in," Draper told Fox News Digital.

Draper said the strong work of Guild members has allowed management to receive pay increases, offer stock buybacks and increase dividends for the stock, while "the editors, the reporters, the security guards, the temps, the photographers" go unrewarded. 

"They sort of make The New York Times what it is," Draper told Fox News Digital. 

New York Times graphics editor Larry Buchanan participated in Thursday's walkout.

New York Times graphics editor Larry Buchanan participated in Thursday's walkout. (Fox News Digital)

Draper dismissed the notion that management is "intentionally" bargaining in bad faith, but doesn’t believe they’ve making acceptable proposals, either. 

"Whatever sort of faith they are bargaining in has not led them to put forward proposals that are adequate," he said. "Feeling like we were sort of forced into a position of walking out is a sad position. Most of us like our jobs and would prefer to just do our jobs." 

New York Times management has complained in the press that the Guild doesn’t want to negotiate in person, as the union prefers Zoom sessions so that all members can witness the bargaining attempts. Buchanan believes a "silver lining" of the COVID pandemic was that Zoom was normalized and Guild members have been able to witness bargaining sessions first-hand. 

"We were able to see what happens and see how the process plays out," Buchanan said. "I don’t think that’s been a bad thing. I think that’s kind of been an amazing thing, and it’s partly why you’ll see so many people out here rallying for a fair contract, because we have been able to see the behind-the-scenes process. This idea that if we were just hammering it out behind closed doors it would go faster is just not true." 

Sports reporter Jenny Vrentas, who spent the morning handing out flyers on the street outside the Times’ headquarters, agreed that bargaining should be open to everyone involved. She said management hasn't been "committed to getting a fair, complete deal" done, and Guild members have seen the situation unfold with their own eyes. 

Hundreds of New York Times staffers went on strike on Thursday.

Hundreds of New York Times staffers went on strike on Thursday.(Fox News Digital)

"We’re a democratic union, we want all of our members to be part of this and know what’s going on, so it has been a huge deal for us to be able to witness bargaining sessions. It’s not just the bargaining committee at the table, it’s hundreds of us," Vrentas told Fox News Digital. "I think that’s played a huge part in where we are now because people can see first-hand how management responds, how they slow walk negotiations, their refusal to bargain in good faith."

Times journalists engaged in a strike for less than a day in 1981. A strike in 1978 was the most significant, lasting 88 days and disrupting the paper’s publication. Most recently, in 2018, there was a short walkout in protests of the elimination of the copy desk.  

Joe Kahn, the executive editor of The Times, said he was disappointed by the walkout, and denied the idea that negotiations between NewsGuild and management had reached a deadlock.

"While the company and the NewsGuild remain apart on a number of issues, we continue to trade proposals and make progress toward an agreement," he said. 

New York Times staffers will rally outside the main offices Thursday afternoon, with "1619 Project" founder Nikole Hannah-Jones planning to speak at the event.


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