All the News That’s Fit to Pay (Fairly) For
October 9, 2012 9:35 am
Four hundred New York Times staffers walked off the job yesterday afternoon, signifying their increasing frustration at the lack of a contract for unionized journalists and staffers. Unionized representatives of the Newspaper Guild of New York at the Times have been laboring without a contract for 18 months, and have balked at the paper’s demands for a pension freeze and separate contracts for print and digital employees. Twenty-three Washington staffers walked out in solidarity with their New York City brethren.
Old Gray Lady staffers are incensed that the increasingly oppositional stance of the company’s VP of labor and lawyers comes over an estimated difference of just $20 million dollars — a fraction of the paper’s $900 million dollar nest egg.
New York Times science correspondent Donald G. McNeil summed up the hardship the staffers are feeling for JimRomenesko.com:
We’re right to be angry. The company has more than $900 million in cash stockpiled (I can prove that by sending you the quarterly reports) and it could solve this for about $20 million. They’re idiots if they don’t see that it makes more sense to spend that fraction of the pot rather than to alienate an entire staff that still loves their jobs and has long appreciated, even loved the Sulzberger family. But for 18 months, their lawyer and their senior VP for labor have done exactly that — acted like belligerent idiots, heedless of the consequences.
They have described us to our faces as the company’s “people who make the widgets.” Our members have died on the Syrian border, had limbs blown off in Afghanistan, been taken prisoner in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, toppled Elliot Spitzer, covered the hell out a presidential campaign, and won two to three Pulitzers a year. Take a look at the list of signers on that letter — there are a dozen Pulitzer winners on it.
Take a look at that Washington bureau picture [below] — those are the people covering the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the State Department, the Pentagon. And during this all, Arthur has been — as far as we can tell – largely absent. It’s sad and frustrating. Hence, the anger.
Grant Glickson, the unit chair of the Newspaper Guild of New York at the Times noted that Monday’s walkout was just the first in a series of actions intended to send a clear message: New York Times staffers will accept nothing less than fair wages and benefits.
Image from here