The New York Times prepares for a 24-hour strike

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Times is preparing for a 24-hour walkout Thursday by hundreds of reporters and other employees, in what would be the first strike of its kind at the paper in more than 40 years.

Newsroom workers and other members of The NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with negotiations that have dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more than 1,100 employees would conduct a 24 -hour work stoppage starting at 12:01 Thursday, unless the two parties enter into a contract.

Negotiations took place on Tuesday and some of Wednesday, but the parties remained far apart on issues including wage increases and telecommuting.

On Wednesday night, the union said via Twitter that no agreement had been reached and that the work stoppage was on its way. “We were ready to work as long as it took to reach a fair deal,” it said, “but management walked away from the table with five hours left.”

“We know what we are worth,” the union added.

But New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement that they were still in negotiations when they were told the strike was taking place.

“It’s disappointing that they’re taking such extreme action when we’re not at a dead end,” she said.

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It was unclear how Thursday’s coverage would be affected, but the strike’s supporters include members of the fast live news desk, which covers breaking news for the digital paper. The staff planned a rally that afternoon outside the newspaper’s offices near Times Square.

Rhoades Ha told The Associated Press that the company has “solid plans in place” to continue producing content, including relying on international and other non-union journalists.

In a memo sent to union-represented staff Tuesday night, deputy managing editor Cliff Levy called the planned strike “confusing” and “a troubling moment in negotiations for a new contract.” He said it would be the first strike by the bargaining unit since 1981 and “comes despite intensified efforts by the company to make progress.”

But in a letter signed by more than 1,000 employees, the NewsGuild said management has been “dragging its feet” in negotiations for nearly two years and “time is running out to reach a fair contract” by the end of the year.

So did NewsGuild the company told employees planning to strike, they would not be paid during the absence. Members were also asked to work extra hours to get the job done ahead of the strike, according to the union.

The New York Times has seen other, shorter walkouts in recent years, including a half-day protest in August by a new union representing tech workers who claimed unfair labor practices.

In a breakthrough that both sides called significant, the company backed its proposal to replace the existing adjustable-rate pension plan with an enhanced 401(k) pension plan. The Times instead offered to let the union choose between the two. The company also agreed to expand fertility treatment benefits.

Levy said the company has also offered to raise wages by 5.5 percent upon ratification of the contract, followed by 3 percent increases in 2023 and 2024. That would be an increase from the 2.2 percent annual increases in the expired contract.

Stacy Cowley, a financial reporter and union representative, said the union is seeking 10 percent pay raises upon ratification, which she said would make up for raises not received over the past two years.

She also said the union wants the contract to guarantee employees the ability to work remotely some of the time if their roles allow, but the company wants the right to recall workers to the office full time. Cowley said the Times has required its staff to be in the office three days a week, but many have been showing up less often in an informal protest.

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