More than 1,000 reporters, editors, photographers and other employees gather outside the newspaper's offices near Manhattan's Times Square to protest stalled contract talks and management's refusal to raise wages in line with surging inflation.
More than 1,000 New York Times journalists and other staff have walked off the job for 24 hours, frustrated by contract negotiations that have dragged on for months in the newspaper's biggest labour dispute in more than 40 years.
Hundreds of reporters, editors, photographers and other employees picketed outside the newspaper's offices on Thursday near Manhattan's Times Square.
The NewsGuild of New York, a union representing the striking workers, had said that a key sticking point was the management's refusal to raise wages in line with surging inflation.
The union went through with its pledge to strike after the two sides failed to reach a deal in marathon negotiations that broke off Wednesday evening.
Health and retirement benefits, as well as return-to-work policies following the coronavirus pandemic, were also an issue.
"Over 1,100 New York Times workers are now officially on work stoppage, the first of this scale at the company in 4 decades," the union tweeted early on Thursday morning.
"I'm not angry. I'm just deeply disappointed in our company," said Nikole Hannah Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who spoke at the rally.
"You shouldn't have to struggle financially to work at a place like The New York Times, no matter what your position is."
New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told US media in a statement that negotiations had not broken down and "it is disappointing that they are taking such an extreme action when we are not at an impasse."
"When this paper struggled, all of us had to share in its austerity. So when this paper's doing well, people who work there every day to make this paper a global phenomenon deserve to share in its success."— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) December 8, 2022
In an email to the newsroom, Executive Editor Joe Kahn said he was disappointed in the decision to strike when negotiations are not at an impasse, The Times reported in its own story on the walkout.
Kahn said Thursday's report would be "robust" but that producing it "will be harder than usual."
Stacy Cowley, a finance reporter and chief union negotiator, said the strike nearly depleted many newsroom teams, including her own.
Those who participated included members of the fast-paced live news desk, which covers breaking news for the digital publication.
For some news, The Times relied on updating copy pre-written by reporters now on strike.
"A news alert with my name on it just went out. It was a pre-written story ahead of an expected vote. I stand with the guild!" tweeted Times congressional correspondent Annie Karni.
The NewsGuild has argued that employees deserve better compensation for their roles in helping The New York Times become a success story in the long-beleaguered news industry.
"The company is doing very well now on our work, and the raises they are offering us and the contract are very low, well below inflation," 34-year-old graphics editor Albert Sun told the AFP news agency during the protest.
The American people desperately need high-quality journalism, and journalists and newspaper staff need a fair contract. I urge the ownership of the New York Times to bargain in good faith with @NYTimesGuild, and pay their workers what they deserve.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 8, 2022
Seeking a breakthrough
The Times, which has grown its subscriber base in recent years, projected an adjusted operating profit of between $320 million and $330 million for 2022 in its most recent earnings report.
The strike comes as other US media companies, including Gannett, CNN and the digital media outlet BuzzFeed have cut staff, citing difficult economic conditions and a pullback in advertising.
In a note sent to guild-represented staff Tuesday night, Deputy Managing Editor Cliff Levy called the planned strike "puzzling" and an "unsettling moment in negotiations over a new contract."
In one breakthrough that both sides called significant, the company backed off its proposal to replace the existing adjustable pension plan with an enhanced 401(k) retirement plan.
At the rally, Cowley said there was momentum during negotiations this week and hoped for a breakthrough to avert more work stoppages.
The Times has offered union members a 5.5 percent raise upon ratifying the contract, 3 percent raises in 2023 and 2024, and a 4 percent retroactive bonus to compensate for lack of raises since the contract expired.
The union has proposed a 10 percent raise upon ratification, 5.5 percent raises in 2023 and 2024, and an 8.5 percent retroactive bonus.
More than 1,800 people work in The Times's newsroom in total.