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NY Times writers hold 24-hour strike over wages, remote work rules – 1,100 union employees cite outlet's 'failure to bargain in good faith'

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Photo by Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images

More than 1,100 union writers and other staff at the New York Times staged a 24-hour walkout on Thursday after the company failed to lock down a contract with the union by last week's deadline, Reuters reported.

NewsGuild of New York, a labor union for news professionals, pointed to the company's "failure to bargain in good faith."

After 20 months of deadlocked contract negotiating, the union set a new deadline for midnight on December 8 but failed to "reach a fair deal" with the Times regarding salaries, health insurance benefits, and return-to-work requirements.

"Their wage proposal still fails to meet the economic moment, lagging far behind both inflation and the average rate of wage gains in the U.S.," the union stated.

According to the NewsGuild, which represents more than 1,450 employees in the Times' newsroom, the newspaper's management team walked out of Wednesday's marathon bargaining session with five hours left before the deadline.

"Over 1,100 New York Times workers are now officially on work stoppage, the first of this scale at the company in 4 decades," NewsGuild posted on Twitter. "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. #GuildStrong!"

Union employees and supporters planned to picket and rally outside the New York Times building on Thursday afternoon. Staff encouraged others not to read the paper's articles or engage in any Times platforms, including the word game Wordle.

"We're asking readers to not engage in any @nytimes platforms tomorrow and stand with us on the digital picket line! Read local news. Listen to public radio. Make something from a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak," Amanda Hess, a writer at the Times, posted on Twitter.

"I'm walking out with 1,100 of my @NYTimesGuild colleagues for a fair and complete contract," wrote Michael Gold, a Times reporter. "This contract is more than an investment in us: This is an investment in the future of @nytimes and an investment in the public that we serve."

"There's something about this form that makes people act so ugly, but the NYT is not just journalists," Ida Bae Wells, a New York Times magazine reporter, posted on social media. "We're striking for our lower paid colleagues, those who put out the paper, our security guards, our news assistants. That is the point of COLLECTIVE actions. We fight together."

The New York Times addressed the one-day strike in a Thursday morning article, confirming that the contract between the newspaper and the union had expired in March 2021. After 40 bargaining sessions, the Times and NewsGuild continued to face several sticking points.

According to the Times, the union was unsatisfied with its proposed raises, return-to-work policy, and the employee performance rating system.

"White Guild members were more likely to get the top ratings," stated a study conducted by NewsGuild, "while Black and Hispanic members were more likely to get the lowest two ratings."

Following the report, the newspaper claimed that the managing editor, Marc Lacey, announced plans to update the rating system.

The Times reported that during the 24-hour walkout, nonunion writers and staff would continue to release news reports.

"Strikes typically happen when talks deadlock. That is not where we are today," said Joe Kahn, the executive editor of the Times. "While the company and the NewsGuild remain apart on a number of issues, we continue to trade proposals and make progress toward an agreement."

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