New York Times staff on 24-hour strike over contract impasse

More than 1,000 union journalists and workers walk out in first strike for newspaper in decades

People picket in front of the New York Times building in Manhattan. Reuters
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Hundreds of journalists and other employees at The New York Times on Thursday began a 24-hour walkout, the first major strike at the newspaper in more than 40 years.

Fed up with bargaining that has dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021, newsroom staffers who are part of The NewsGuild of New York began a 24-hour work stoppage at 12.01am on Thursday.

The NewsGuild tweeted that workers “are now officially on work stoppage, the first of this scale at the company in 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,” it said.

Negotiations took place on Tuesday and some of Wednesday, but the sides remained far apart on issues including wages, remote work policies and the company's employee evaluation system, which the union says is vulnerable to racial bias.

On Wednesday evening, the union said via Twitter that a deal had not been reached and that the walkout would happen.

“We were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal,” it said.

“But management walked away from the table with five hours to go.”

The union added: “We know what we’re worth.”

But New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement that the sides were still in negotiations when the company was told that the strike was happening.

“It is disappointing that they are taking such an extreme action when we are not at an impasse,” she said.

Ms Rhoades Ha told The Associated Press that the company has “solid plans in place” to continue producing content, including relying on international reporters and other journalists who are not union members.

In a note sent to guild-represented staff on Tuesday, Deputy Managing Editor Cliff Levy called the planned strike “puzzling” and “an unsettling moment in negotiations over a new contract”.

He said it would be the first strike by the bargaining unit since 1981 and “comes despite intensifying efforts by the company to make progress”.

In a letter last week signed by more than 1,000 employees, the NewsGuild said management has been “dragging its feet”.

The NewsGuild also said the company told employees who planned to strike that they would not be paid for the duration of the walkout.

Members were also asked to work extra hours to get work done before the strike, the union said.

The New York Times has experienced shorter walkouts in recent years, including a half-day protest in August by a new union representing technology workers who claimed unfair labour practices.

The last strike that stopped the newspaper's publication was in 1978 and lasted 88 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: December 09, 2022, 7:33 AM