The New York Times expects employees to start returning to the office three days a week from this week — but more than 1,300 journalists are saying no, they won’t.
It is just the latest blow in an increasingly bitter contract dispute between the News Guild Journalists’ Union – which includes journalists and photographers as well as some editors and business-side staff – and upper management, over pay.
As of Monday, 1,316 Times workers had signed a pledge not to return to office. This includes 879 members of the News Guild, but also members of the Times Tech Guild and the Union for Wirecutter, the paper’s product-recommended spinoff.
“People are fiery,” Tom Coffey told The Post. A 25-year veteran editor at the NYT, he works on the news desk and serves on the union’s contract work committee.
He added that being forced to return to office during periods of high inflation meant workers would have to spend more money on gas, mass transport, clothing and lunch, despite the lack of wage increases.
NYT video journalist Haley Willis tweeted TODAY: “@nytimes is giving out branded lunch boxes to employees this week as a return to the office. We want respect and a fair contract instead – so I’m working from home this week with @NYTimesGuild and @NYTGuildTech colleagues with the support of @WirecutterUnion.
A source said the branded NYT lunch box did not contain any sandwiches or other lunch food. “They were empty,” said a source. “And the lunch box had no handle.”
According to a Times spokesperson, the number of days worked in the office is not set and it is up to individual departments to determine what works for their teams – but added: “We believe are that a hybrid work environment is best. The New York Times at the moment.”
“It’s not mandatory to return to work three days a week, but they actually ‘expect’ to be back at the office three days a week,” Coffey said.
The negotiating committee offered a 4% pay increase in its last bargaining session on August 24 – the first concrete pay offer made by the company in negotiations. The old contract expired at the end of March 2021.
“They discussed salaries for almost two hours and it was very controversial,” said a source.
Sources with knowledge of the company’s stance previously told The Post that Times management was calling off wage negotiations until several other issues — such as Juneteenth, Veterans Day and Indigenous People’s Day — are added to the calendar.
But the last increment was implemented in March 2020. “The company’s negotiators aren’t going slow, they’re not going through wage negotiations,” Coffey claimed.
According to another employee, who did not want to be identified, “people are getting frustrated with the conversation.”
In addition to the 8% increase, the News Guild was calling for a 5.25% increase in the cost of living – and insisted that all employees who can work remotely retain that option indefinitely, and There will be no mandatory return to offices before July 2023. The Post has been told that the trade union may be soft on the increase in the standard of living.
The anti-office pledge follows a “flood the in-box” campaign that was launched before the last talks in August, in which more than 300 journalists called Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, new executive editor Joe Kahn, Opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury and Sent email to CEO. Meredith Kopit Levin.
Many added personal notes, some of which the post has seen.
“Public filings show your pay is rising much faster than inflation,” wrote business reporter Peter Iwis, as Sulzberger pulled in a package totaling $3.6 million in 2021, compared to $2.4 million in 2020 .
Kopit Levien increased his total package to about $5.8 million in 2021, up from $4.4 million in 2020, Ivis reported.
“In addition, since the beginning of 2020, [the company has] Paid $165 million to our shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks,” he added in the email. “It’s cash out the door that you thought the company had no internal use. Our message for today: We really need this! Please ask your negotiators to be serious in our contract negotiations.”
Coffey wrote in his email that he received a nice swag bag to mark his 25-year anniversary that included a merchant-like umbrella and water bottle with the NYT logo – but that the swag didn’t mean much. Pay for your daughter’s college tuition when she needs it.
“I don’t need knick-knacks,” he wrote. “I need a hike.”
He said the 4% hike proposed by the company would be reduced for members who have received merit-based pay increases in the past two years: “With no pay increases, it amounts to actual pay cuts.”
A spokesperson for the Times told The Post, “We at the Guild respect the rights of our colleagues to have their voices heard. We are actively working with NYT NewsGuild to reach a collective bargaining agreement, which will allow our journalists to is financially rewarded for his contribution to the success of The Times, is financially responsible as the company remains in growth mode, and continues to take into account the industry landscape.
“We presented NewsGuild with a salary offer that would offer a 10 percent contractual increase over the remaining two-and-a-half years of the new contract. This is significantly higher than most recent Times Guild contracts. We anticipate progress toward an agreement. We do.”
In June, when Kahn stepped into his new role, about 900 journalists sent an email asking him to intervene to end the log jam of negotiations and bring about a new contract. Kahn backed out and said the workers deserve a pay increase for all their hard work, but said he would leave it up to the negotiating committee.
Around 200 journalists participated in the live stream of the talks session on August 24. The next meeting, scheduled for September 13, is expected to follow.
A longtime NYT reporter told The Post that it’s unclear how strictly three days a week in the office is going to be enforced: “A lot of managers aren’t too happy about returning to the office.”