On Tuesday night, after protracted negotiations and public disputes, bitter labor strife erupted The New York Times came to an end: the staff union, which represents more than 1,400 employees, and the company agreed to a preliminary contract. Time Guild’s last contract expired in March 2021, but over the past year in particular, outcry has spilled over into the public eye, with journalists calling on senior leaders in September to get more involved and more than 1,100 staffers a few months later quit their jobs. a historic protest that hasn’t been seen at the newspaper in over 40 years. And just a few months ago, in March, Time publisher AG Sulzberger advocated bringing in a neutral third party to broker a deal, citing the “disturbing lack of progress,” according to an email reported by The Wall Street Journal. Strike chatter reached a climax, as did divisions within the newsroom. Now the Guild Slack was full of celebrity messages and solidarity emojis. What has changed?
I’m told that a major breakthrough was a tiered wage proposal put forward by the Guild in March. in a few places over the past six months,” says a reporter. As negotiations dragged on, the Guild — which was proposing increases across the board before the tiered proposal — decided to take the idea more seriously. Under the new proposal, members who receive less than $100,000 earn a 12.5% raise, members earning $100,000 to $119,999 receive an 11.6% raise, 0.2%, and members earning $160,000 or more receive a 10.6 raise %. get wage increases, with the largest for the lowest earners – who also tended to be those most in favor of aggressive union action, such as strikes – and slightly smaller for the better paid members.” This approach seemed to be a way to satisfy both groups. make a deal and reduce the total cost of it in a way the company might accept, while also getting the pay raises for the lower-paid people who really needed them, the reporter says. the negotiations changed quite significantly after that,” they added. “The gamble worked on some level.”
Multiple Guild members were involved in developing the layered idea and fleshing out the mechanics, but people I spoke to called it out specifically Time economic reporter Ben Casselman as someone who advocated for the proposal within the negotiating committee — and argued especially well for higher-income members who wanted smaller pay raises. “He read the room really well about who was willing to strike and who wasn’t willing to strike,” one reporter says of Casselman: “It’s a really decent deal for the better-paid reporters because the deal brought actual salary increases, as opposed to to a class minimum,” said the reporter. In the past, raises were based on scale minimums, not actual salaries, which disproportionately hurt higher earners; increases in actual salaries, which the company agreed to last fall, helped them disproportionately. The tiered structure helped offset that a bit by taking advantage of lower earners disproportionately. Time, a senior Time one reporter told me, saw the tiered proposal as “an essential compromise right now.”
Of course, the tiered proposal wasn’t the only thing that brought the ball forward. There had also been ongoing collective action, such as with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people about six weeks ago, as well as the looming possibility of a strike. Time The guild asked the members if they would approve of such an act. “They mobilized dozens of us to go around and just talk to the members if they wanted to do it,” says one of the members. Time A large majority of members were willing to strike and wanted to go ahead with a vote to authorize one, but “there were some significant spots of skepticism,” the reporter says, particularly among the top echelons of the newsroom.
And management themselves had had conversations with members, where “they’ve heard pretty consistently that people are really unhappy, morale is low, and people are blaming the company for not getting it done,” says a reporter, noting that this was down to it to come” in some cases from people who were quite skeptical of the Guild.
“We are pleased to have reached a preliminary agreement that will take care of it The New York Times will continue to be a place that provides a best-in-class mix of pay and benefits for our journalists and rewards our NewsGuild-represented colleagues for their contributions to the Time‘good luck,” Time spokesman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement Vanity purse.
The union will vote to ratify the contract in the coming days, but that is clearly in talks with Time employees who follow the news that, as happy as people are to have reached a deal, the contentious battle between the company and its staff – and sometimes within the staff union – has left its mark on the newsroom. relief that the deal is done because it’s been going on for so long, and a real sense of relief among a contingent of reporters that we haven’t gone on strike,” said one Time one reporter tells me, but “it was just pretty awful how the whole thing went down, and it left a lot of scorched earth in the newsroom.”
“I am delighted with the contract we won, but I am furious with the intensity with which we had to fight for every syllable of this deal,” says financial reporter Stacy Cooley, the unit secretary and a member of the negotiating committee. “It is infuriating and insulting to see this company spend hundreds of millions of dollars on stock buybacks and dividends while allowing its own employees to fight for years for a living wage and fair wage increases.” (Rhoades Ha noted that while the company has approved share repurchases and dividends, “the company has not spent most of what was allowed.”)
The contract agreement, says one of the Time reporters I spoke to, “is a step toward straightening out major pay disparities that have really affected the most loyal and longest-serving reporters in the past decade. But it’s just a start.”