Village Voice employees set strike deadline after negotiations break down

Note: This story has been updated to include a reply from the management of The Village Voice.

The Village Voice’s union has set a strike deadline after a “13-hour marathon” negotiating session Monday that was unsuccessful, according to a press release.

This means that the union’s bargaining committee is free to establish a timeline for the strike if negotiations continue to fail, the release says.

Union members differ with Village Voice management on several fronts, including healthcare options, 401k offerings, pay raises, working conditions and the quality of the newsroom beverages, according to the release.

“They won’t even agree to improve our damn coffee,” it reads.

Among the demands made in the release: A minimum salary for staff writers, an increase in sales commissions for the ad staff, increased layoff benefits and additional hires to fill vacancies in the office.

The management and the union representatives have also dug in their heels over the issue of healthcare, said Eden Schulz, the treasurer and secretary of Local 2110, which represents about 27 journalists and ad salespeople at The Village Voice. Employees at The Village Voice want to retain their current healthcare plan, which does not require contributions to their monthly premiums, but that has been a contentious issue.

“We are facing, really at this point, unprecedented givebacks,” Schulz said.

The management of The Village Voice expressed their commitment to an amicable solution to the dispute in a statement to Poynter.

“The Village Voice values our employees, and we’re confident that we’ll achieve a mutually beneficial resolution — the hardest part may be getting this many New Yorkers to agree on what qualifies as a good cup of coffee,” the statement read.

The strike deadline is the latest step in what has been a tumultuous negotiation process. On Monday, The New York Observer reported, Voice employees walked out of their lower Manhattan offices for an hour, chanting and holding signs that said “don’t steal our healthcare” and “no givebacks — what is wrong with you?

The Village Voice newsroom has also undergone several rounds of layoffs in recent years, according to The New York Observer. Last year, the paper’s top editor, Will Bourne, chose to resign rather than impose another round of layoffs as directed by newspaper management.

Village Voice representatives will meet tonight to discuss the deadline for the strike, Schulz said.

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