New York Times staffers have put out a new video speaking out against the ongoing contract negotiations with the paper's management — particularly proposed changes to their pension plans.
The Times and the paper's union have been engaged in a contentious battle over the terms of a new contract for over a year. The tension between the two sides has heated up in recent months, with staffers openly protesting the negotiations outside a Page One meeting in February.
One of the main sticking points has been the paper's call to freeze the Guild pension plan. A new video, uploaded by the Youtube channel saveourtimes, features employees blasting the proposed change. A memo announcing the video was distributed on Wednesday.
The video is striking for the clear depth of the anger at Times management.
Several staffers said that that the specific term was a deep sign of the paper's "disrespect" for its employees. They cited the drastic differences in the annual amount they would receive under the current plan versus one without a pension. Some spoke about being forced to go on food stamps or live on cat food.
Joyce Wadler, a feature writer who has been with the Times for 14 years, had especially harsh words about the paper. "I'm appalled, I'm horrified, I'm sickened by what's been going on at the Times," she said.
Donald G. McNeil Jr., a 36-year veteran, said that he stood to lose $350,000 over a 20 year period if the management's plan went through.
"$350,000, as far as I'm concerned, is worth risking a strike over," he said.
Below, read the full text of the memo about the video (via Romenesko).
Subject: your colleagues on Guild pension video, now up on YouTube
A few weeks ago, the Guild asked a number of the paper’s journalists to sit down and talk on video about the negotiations, the issues important to them, how they feel about working at the Times, and so on.
The first video is finally ready. It is about several issues, but particularly about pensions: why they are so valuable, and how much the Times is trying to take from us by demanding a pension freeze.
The original target audience is inside our own building –members who may have doubts about fighting to save the pension.
But it’s powerful enough – I think – to be shown to any audience.
Please have a look – it includes David Dunlap, Jim Dwyer, Clyde Haberman, John Schwartz, Nadia Taha, Joyce Wadler, George Vecsey, Willy Rashbaum, Claiborne Ray, Erik Piepenburg, Andrea Kannapell, Karen Grzelewski, Jennifer Mascia, Kevin Sack and myself. Others also spoke and I gather the plan is to use them in future videos