Workers at The New York Times Take First Walk-Out Strike in Nearly 50 Years

By Kelly Bjornstad

Employees at New York Times have taken their first walk-out strike in demand of higher pay, and better benefits since the 70s. Workers there claim that the company is fully capable of paying all demands, and with recent inflation and cost of living increasing at such a high rate, workers refuse to be overworked without just compensation. 

On December 8th, over 1,100 participants protested for raises and better protections under New York Times. And aside from the union that represents the media and around 6,500 other members, the union on strike only consists of about 1,400 people, which means the company wasn’t left completely dry. Updates made by sports staff on the World Cup, for example, were able to continue in their publishing’s. Some signs among the protestors read “We make the paper, we make the profits.” And The Washington Post notes “…the 24-hour protest action was the culmination of months of frustration over contract negotiations on a range of issues, particularly compensation.” The last substantial work halt for the New York Times happened during the 70s, where the company was operating during a financial crisis. It occurred in the year 1978, and pressmen (among others) protested for 88 days. After that, there were strikes and lunchtime-walkouts taking place in 1981 as well as 2017. 

Workers explained their frustrations with news companies, mostly springing from financial concerns. Staff editor Angela Zagata explained to BBC News, “My rent went up 8% last year, so I guess my question is: what is a 2.8% raise doing for me, especially when the company is spending so much on executive salary, stock buybacks and dividends?” Film critic A.O Scott explained “That’s where it feels more than just a matter of disagreement on numbers, but really a slap in the face, we have devoted so much of our time, energy, work and love to this paper, which seems unwilling to recognize or to reward that contribution.”

This uneasiness is valid. Other media and news reporting companies are laying off employees because of the current economic environment. Though, The New York Times hasn’t found a need to do this just yet, as they’re one of the most if not the most successful news companies among their competitors. They added “The union has proposed a 10 percent raise upon ratification, 5.5 percent raises in 2023 and 2024, and an 8.5 percent retroactive bonus.” The company meets their employees with resistance, as seen from previous approaches. The New York Times disclosed “In negotiations earlier this week, the guild sought average pay raises of 5.5 percent in both 2023 and 2024, while the company countered with two years of 3 percent increases.”

The Strike took place for 24 hours in front of the New York Times building, hopefully with enough momentum to meet the unions requests. The strike marks a new historic event in the New York Times’s record, and goes to show the intolerance in today’s society for lack of fair conditions in the workplace. 

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