Thursday, April 26, 2012

New York Times Staffers Protest Contract Negotiations Outside Shareholders Meeting

The Huffington Post  |  By

Angry New York Times staffers took to the company's annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday in a flagrant display of discontent with the paper's handling of contract negotiations.

Nearly seventy New York Times staffers formed "a silent gauntlet" outside the meeting, according to the Newspaper Guild of New York. The protest took the war between staffers and management to new levels. 

Employees lined up in the lobby of the company's Manhattan headquarters, handing out leaflets criticizing the contract negotiations. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., other members of the Sulzberger family and company executives had to walk past the staffers on their way to the meeting. 

Outside of the building, more employees handed out other materials and protested with a large poster that read “Without Journalists and Staff, The Times is Just White Space.” 

The Newspaper Guild wrote on Wednesday, "Local leaders say members are getting angrier by the day about the lack of progress on a fair contract and the company's continuing demands for a 10 to 15 percent cut in compensation – demands made while handing a $24 million severance package to a departing CEO."

The protest is the latest development in the increasingly contentious war over contract negotiations at the Times. Last week, staffers put out a new video speaking out against the company's call to freeze their pension plans. One staffer, Donald G. MacNeil, went on record saying that the amount he stood to lose from the change "is worth risking a strike over."

Note: Images of the Guild's protest outside the Times annual stockholders meeting added by Broadcast Union News.

New York Times labor reporter,Steven Greenhouse, shared his views on the Times-Guild contract talks with colleagues in a memo that the Guild members handed to stockholders as they entered the annual meeting.

Greenhouse holds no union position and is not a member of the bargaining committee or any other Guild committee. We thought his report was a clear, thoughtful, down-the-middle account of where things stand and what's at stake in these very important talks. So, with Steven's permission, we're making it available to all Times Guild members. - The Newspaper Guild of New York)

Greenhouse Wrote:  

 * "As someone who has covered labor negotiations for years, I was baffled why it took nearly a year for management to move beyond its initial draconian offer."

* "I fear that the anger in the newsroom will only continue to grow so long as the Times negotiating team sticks with contract offers that would cut our after-inflation compensation."

* "I believe the Times should work with the Guild to seriously explore some type of profit-sharing formula that would help hold down the Times' fixed costs while at the same time assuring that Times employees receive a fair share of any financial rebound that the Times

* "I have great respect for Arthur and the entire Sulzberger family for their whole-hearted dedication to maintaining the Times as the world's greatest newspaper. But I fear that the Arthur has been ill served by [Times labor chief] Terry Hayes and other negotiators who,
through their draconian contract offers, have shown considerable disrespect toward the newsroom."

Read the full text at: 

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