Tensions between NY Times reporters and management are intensifying as the New York Newspaper Guild continues to lock horns with the company over stalled contract negotiations. For much of this year the newsroom has been in open revolt, perhaps best exemplified by a scathing email fired off in May by science and health reporter Don McNeil, who derisively accused Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. of being an aimless dilettante. Now the newsroom is kicking it up a notch, with a brisk 10-15 minute walkout scheduled today. Here's an excerpt from the New York Newspaper Guild's attempt to rally the troops:
Colleagues: There is no longer any time to waste. At every bargaining session for the last year and a half, negotiators for The Times have offered us the same poisoned chalice: perpetually shrinking compensation.
Today we begin a series of actions to make sure that the company hears and understands our position. We have more than earned fair wages and benefits. We will accept nothing less. That message has not yet gotten through, despite huge concessions by our representatives. It is time to raise our voices...
Any proposal to dismantle the decade of work that has been done to unify the newsroom, securing its place as the world’s premier news organization, could be laughed off as far-fetched legal gimmickry. After all, that would be an act of self-immolation. But even if it’s not worth serious consideration, it has landed just we are heading at full speed toward a crisis over genuine issues like our pay and benefits.
They threaten to declare impasse; they burn up hours on low-farce; then they slap down another version of their repugnant demands to cut our compensation.
And so today, at 3:35, a "group will be leaving the building en masse for a few minutes. Here are the instructions." The Guild notes that "This is not a job action. We want you to participate if you have flexibility in your work schedule that permits a 10 or 15 minute break at 3:35. Please plan your day accordingly. If you are unable to join the group, colleagues will bring back stickers." STICKERS: Your move, Sulzberger Jr.
To be sure, today's rather modest action is only one of what the Guild promises will be a series of protests until Times executives finally "get the message." And last month they also sent a sternly worded letter to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., executive editor Jill Abramson and incoming CEO Mark Thompson. Sought for comment, the Times' VP of corporate communications, Eileen Murphy, says, "We continue to remain focused on our priority of reaching a fair agreement with the Guild." [Via Romenesko]