October 10, 2012

The Newspaper Guild of New York
New York Times management responded to the walkout employees staged Monday by “throwing a tantrum and taking two provocative actions Tuesday,” the Newspaper Guild of New York writes.

First, the management team walked out of contract negotiations after only 10 minutes. Second, late in the day, management informed the Guild that it intends to make a “final offer” on Thursday, as well as canceling Wednesday’s scheduled negotiating session.

The two sides are negotiating on several issues, including scheduled raises and pension contributions. The Guild pointed out last month that the Times’ law firm Proskauer Rose represented the NFL in its dispute with referees. “[W]e’ve seen how well that’s turned out,” Guild President Bill O’Meara wrote.

I’ve asked both Guild officials and Times management for comment and will update this post when I hear back.

Here are some choice paragraphs from the Guild’s account of Tuesday’s negotiations:

When your Guild negotiating team asked why The Times has offered zero for 2011 and at best a 1 percent raise for the last two months of 2012, attorney Bernie Plum, the hired hand, replied with what felt like calculated incitement.

“This is a declining industry and a declining business,” he told the union negotiating committee. It is common for management to demand concessions and “even more common to have zeros.”

In other words, we should smile and bow if management offers us anything more than zero. To state the obvious, senior management survives on quite a bit more than zero raises and zero bonuses, and our new CEO reportedly will find his way in New York City on a seven-figure salary.

The Guild says management plans to make its “final offer” tomorrow; the union has previously said if impasse is declared, it would “challenge the move at the National Labor Relations Board.”

The New York Times company has a large amount of cash raised by sales of assets like its stake in Fenway Sports Group, About.com and its Regional Media Group. The company “could solve this for about $20 million,” reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. contended in an email to Poynter that was also published by Jim Romenesko.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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