Reporters and editors at The New York Times began a one-day strike on Thursday as talks between their union and the company continued and showed limited progress.
The contract between The Times and The New York Times Guild expired in March 2021 and approximately 40 negotiation sessions have been held since then. Negotiators have failed to agree on salaries, health and pension benefits and other issues.
More than 1,100 workers signed a 24-hour strike pledge. The union negotiating the contract, which is part of the NewsGuild of New York, represents about 1,450 employees in the newsroom, advertising and other parts of the company. The Times employs more than 1,800 people.
In a statement Wednesday night, the union accused The Times of negotiating in bad faith.
“Their wage proposal still falls short of the economic juncture and lags well behind both inflation and the average rate of wage growth in the US,” the union said in its announcement that it would strike.
In a note to editors, Joe Kahn, editor-in-chief of The Times, said he was disappointed with the union’s decision.
“Strikes usually happen when talks are deadlocked. That’s not where we are today,” Mr Kahn said. “While the company and the NewsGuild remain apart on a number of issues, we continue to exchange proposals and make progress toward an agreement.”
Compensation remains the most contentious aspect of the negotiations. The Times has offered union members a 5.5 percent raise upon ratification of the contract, 3 percent increases in 2023 and 2024, and a retroactive 4 percent bonus to compensate for a lack of raises since the contract expired. The union has proposed a 10 percent increase upon ratification, 5.5 percent in 2023 and 2024, and an 8.5 percent retroactive bonus.
Other issues discussed during the talks include the company’s return policy and employee performance appraisal system. In a study published in August, the union said the system was discriminatory.
“White Guild members were more likely to receive the highest ratings,” the study said, “while Black and Hispanic members were more likely to receive the lowest two ratings.”
After the union released that report, a team of senior managers at The Times explored ways to improve the appraisal process. In October, Marc Lacey, a senior editor, announced plans to update it.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a simpler system that everyone applies fairly and consistently, and to focus more on thoughtful feedback than ratings,” Mr. Lacey.
During the strike, non-union editorial staff will be largely responsible for producing the news item.
“We will produce a robust report on Thursday,” Mr. Kahn in his email to the editor. “But it will be harder than usual.”
Faced with a slowdown in advertising and an uncertain economic outlook, some media organizations have cut staff in recent weeks, including CNN, BuzzFeed and the Gannett newspaper chain. During negotiations with The Times, union negotiators have argued that reporters and editors struggle with inflation as the company posts healthy corporate profits.
Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of The Times, wrote in a company-wide email that investments in the news story had led to well-paid, secure jobs for many journalists. She said profits have not caught up where they were decades ago.
“These investments are possible thanks to the great care we have taken as a company over the past decade to restore economic growth in a radically transforming industry,” said Ms. Levien. “We’ve done this by making financial decisions that are sustainable not just now, but for years to come.”
Times journalists have rarely gone on strike. In 1981 they did so for less than a day, and in 2017 there was a brief strike to protest the abolition of the copy table. Since an 88-day strike by pressmen and others in 1978, no labor action has stopped the publication of The Times.
The union has planned a demonstration outside The Times headquarters in New York on Thursday afternoon.