Contract talks at the New York Times took another turn for the worse on Tuesday when company management walked out after ten minutes, and announced that it will make its "final offer" on Thursday.
Union members and management have been grappling over a new contract for the past eighteen months. The tumultuous negotiations remain stalled over employee pension plans and raises, among other issues. In their loudest show of protest yet, Times staffers staged a brief walkout on Monday afternoon.
The company answered the demonstration at Tuesday's negotiating session. The Newspaper Guild of New York reported that the management left after 10 minutes, canceled Wednesday's session and said that it will make its "final offer" on Thursday. "This is a declining industry and a declining business," Bernard Plum, the lawyer representing the Times management, told the union when confronted about raises.
The Guild equated the management's response on Tuesday with "throwing a tantrum," in an email to Times staffers the next morning.
"This means management will try to ratchet up the pressure by taking a step that, conceivably, could take us to the brink of impasse," it wrote. "For now, however, a so called 'final offer' is just another reckless step that is much in keeping with management’s sorry track record during this negotiation."
If an impasse is declared, it would mean that both sides are unwilling to budge, and the Times would be able to implement its proposal unilaterally. The Guild is vehemently objected to that scenario, and has said that it would go to the National Labor Relations Board to fight a declaration of impasse. The other option, it said, would be a strike authorization vote. There was some movement from both sides last week when the Times and the union each made concessions on health care and wages.
"So where are we? We’ll see what management offers on Thursday," the Guild told employees on Wednesday. It said that the mobilizing committee met to discuss the latest developments, and will be in touch with members soon.
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