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Courtesy of Julia Nikhinson

New York Times staff strikes

Staff at The New York Times walkout for union demands.

December 8, 2022

The journalists are on strike; typesetters are on strike; film critics; photojournalists; editors; in fact, over 1,100 New York Times employees, under their union (the NewsGuild of New York) walked out today, on December 8, 2022 in the name of improved pay and benefits.

Despite the strike, today the Times will still produce news per usual, as the union doesn’t include international staff, many of whom are busy covering the World Cup. Strikers, hoping their readers will hear their concerns, encourage them to show solidarity by boycotting all Times products and services – including Wordle – for the day.

Since March 2021, when the Times’ previous employee contract expired, the company and its employees have been debating terms for a new contract that would, union organizers write, “truly [share] the company’s gains with its employees”. Progress has been slow. Finally, the discourse has come to a head, although Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of The Times, wrote that she feels “it’s disappointing that they’re taking such drastic action,” regarding the walkout.

It’s been 41 years since a protest of this scale at the Times– the last one was in 1981 and lasted 6 ½ hours- but this one will last the entire day.

As claims of misinformation spread and more people are stepping away from the news, most prominent media corporations have seen losses in recent years. The New York Times, however, has remained immune to these trends. They expect their total operating profit to rise to $330 million, a $10 million increase, by January. As such, writers and other staff are arguing that they are being undervalued and that their labor and craft are worth more than what the Times is currently giving them. Because of unmet demands, and such a long waiting period since their last contract expired, many feel the company has failed to listen to their needs. 

The Newsguild of New York seeks average pay raises of 5.5% for 2023 and 2024, but the Times responded with a 3% increase as an offer. Workers have brought up the cost of living in New York as an argument for raises, with many having reported taking up second jobs in order to survive. Even with the soaring rates of inflation, their salaries have remained stagnant in the past few years.

As such, some of the biggest names in the news have stepped away from their computers today, siding with the union. Film critic A.O. Scott says “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.”

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