(NEW YORK) — More than 1,000 journalists and other workers at The New York Times launched a 24-hour strike on Thursday, a protest over ongoing contract negotiations that marks the first such strike at the company in more than four decades.
“It’s never an easy decision to refuse to do work you love, but our members are willing to do what it takes to win a better newsroom for all,” the NewsGuild of New York, the union representing the workers, said on Thursday.
Workers and management have reached an impasse over the scale of pay increases, the balance between remote and in-office work and other issues, according to a letter signed by more than 1,000 employees.
A collective bargaining agreement between the workers and The Times expired last March, giving way to 20 months of negotiations, the letter said. Those negotiations spanned more than 120 hours across 40 bargaining sessions but the two sides still disagree on a host of concerns.
“The Times company is profitable,” the letter said. “It is time the unionized workers who made so much of this possible be properly compensated for their efforts.”
New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha expressed disappointment over the work stoppage, saying the two sides have taken steps toward an agreement.
“It is disappointing that they are taking such an extreme action when we are not at an impasse,” Rhoades Ha told ABC News.
“Though we’ve made progress and offered several new proposals this week to address issues identified as priorities by the Guild, we still have much more work to do when we return to the bargaining table,” Rhoades Ha added.
It was unclear whether the work stoppage would disrupt operations at the news outlet. The Times could publish some previously written work and workers outside of the union would be called upon to make up for the absence of colleagues, Dana Goldstein, a domestic correspondent at the national desk who participated in the work stoppage, told ABC News.
“This is a show of strength to show that we are ready to take these steps and do believe our incredible work over what’s been some of the hardest times of our lives during the pandemic should be rewarded,” she said.
Negotiations have stalled primarily over the scale of annual pay increases, Goldstein said.
The company has offered 2.75% in average annual guaranteed base-pay raises, according to the letter from Times employees.
That offer falls short of what workers need as they weather sky-high inflation and rising housing costs in New York City, where many employees live, said Goldstein, who has worked at The Times for six years.
“We’re not asking for raises to keep up with inflation,” she said. “We’re asking for more than what’s been offered.”
Despite the impasse on pay increases, the company has improved its offer on some benefits, Goldstein said.
The company, which had sought to replace a pension plan with a 401(k), is now offering employees a choice between the two, she said. The company also agreed to improve fertility benefits, she added.
Prominent supporters of Times workers, including actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, called on people to forego visiting The Times website and using Times products in an act of solidarity with the workers.
“Support the New York Times workers in solidarity and steer clear of the NY Times during their strike,” Ruffalo said. “Even Wordle.”
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