The long, drawn-out negotiations between New York Times journalists and management are at a boiling point nearly a year and a half after the last contract expired — and more than two years without a pay hike.
“People are very angry,” said one insider, echoing what other sources told The Post. “The company is basically offering the same kind of wage increase they did when they were losing money.”
In addition to an 8% raise, the News Guild labor union is demanding a cost-of-living increase of 5.25% — and insisting that all workers who can work remotely retain that option indefinitely, and with no mandatory return to offices before July 2023.
Management is said to have not yet put forward a precise number, with sources close to the negotiations saying the company wants to make wages the last matter to be dealt with in negotiations after tackling questions about vacation, sabbaticals, health care and pensions. The union, meanwhile, is pushing to make wage hikes the central part of the bargaining sessions.
The Guild did not return calls for comment, but an email, seen by The Post, to its members last week, said in part: “At the bargaining table … management once again refused to discuss wages, one of the most important parts of our contract. It’s been five months since we heard from the Times on wages.”
The last contract expired at the end of March 2021, and members’ last pay hike was in March 2020.
When new Executive Editor Joe Kahn stepped into his role in June, nearly 900 journalists signed a petition in hopes of getting it on his desk.
The petition points out that, in fiscal year 2021, the company had an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of over $330 million — up 36 percent from the previous year.
The News Guild labor union also blasted NYT brass for handing out $16 million in bonuses to its top five executives, including publisher A.G. Sulzberger, the scion of the family that has long controlled the paper, who pulled down an extra $2.9 million in bonus, stock and other compensation on top of his $612,000 annual salary.
President Meredith Kopit Levien, meanwhile, received a bonus package of $5.8 million in addition to her $900,000 salary.
The union pointed out that the $16 million amount is nearly equal to the $20 million in wage hikes that the Guild is seeking for around 1,300 reporters, photographers and advertising personnel. (Wirecutter and the Tech Guild are not part of this bargaining unit.)
By stretching out contract negotiations, the company may have inadvertently lost some bargaining strength: The union is now demanding bigger pay hikes to compensate for the runaway inflation gripping the US.
It is also seeking to double bereavement time from five to 10 days.
Kahn, who was announced as the successor to Dean Baquet as executive editor in April, issued a response.
“As I undertake my new responsibilities, I share your sense of urgency to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place,” he wrote to bargaining employees. “You have all contributed to the success of The Times in recent years, and many of you also made sacrifices to help the company when the business faced strong headwinds in the past. The new contract can and should reward you for making The Times what it is today.”
But he made no promises: “I need to leave the specifics of contract terms to the team at the negotiating table.”
While the two sides remain far apart on wage demands, there has been some progress on some minor points. The Guild said the NYT has agreed to add Juneteenth, Veterans Day and Indigenous Peoples Day to its paid holiday calendar.
Things could be coming to a head at the next bargaining session later this month. The Guild memo said further: “If management does not offer a meaningful response at our next session on Aug. 24, we will consider it a refusal to bargain and we will take appropriate action. That could mean, among other options, filing an unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board.”
The next negotiating session is slated to be a marathon three-hour stint. A spokesperson for the NYT had not responded to calls or texts at the time of publication.