NYT copy editors, many of whom consider their jobs boring and painstaking, don't like having to work more than 35 hours a week, even as many of us reporters work 50 hours or more a week. Many copy editors bitterly opposed going to a 40-hour week for that reason, especially when the Times wasn't offering any offsetting increase in compensation for the long week. At the same time, the digital folks who already have a 40-hour week thought, why the hell are we oldsters complaining about going to a 40-hour week.
Some in the Guild thought, hell, if management is going to officially increase us from 35 to 40 hours, they should throw in some money -- it's insulting not to offer some financial compensation. Adding insult to increased hours, management coupled the proposed increase in hours with an offer of a three-year wage freeze. At the same time, some Guild officials took the stance -- over our dead bodies will we accept a 40-hour week, the 35-hour week was something our brothers and sisters fought for, sacrificed for and won decades ago.
So management, knowing that many of us work well more than 40 hours a week, and virtually never put in for overtime, thought, let's call their bluff -- we'll officially agree to a 35-hour week, even for the digital folk, because management knows that we're so dedicated, so Type A, so hyper-competitive that whether we have a 35-hour or 40-hour week, hardly anyone is going to put in for overtime, whether we work 50 or 60 hours.
So on paper, it looks as management made a generous concession by agreeing to a 35-hour week. But they just called our bluff and are sitting pretty. They didn't give us a thing. It was a faux concession on their part.
When you cut through [the] "Newsspeak," the bottom line is the NYT is proposing a wage freeze in the contract's first year, a 1 percent raise in the second year and, for the third year, a 1 percent lump-sum payment, which would not become part of the wage base. It insults the intelligence to call that a bonus.
Assuming that inflation averages 2.5 percent a year over those three years, that 1 percent raise over three years would translate into a 6.7 loss in wages after factoring in inflation.