Hundreds of New York Times staffers are ready to participate in a byline strike in their latest demonstration over contract talks.
A memo from the Newspaper Guild of New York announced the development on Sunday. Grant Glickson, the unit chair for the union at the Times, wrote: "Over the last few days, hundreds of people from every department, including many of our best known journalists, have quietly signed pledges to withhold their bylines, photo credits, and producing credits. They have also pledged to work strictly to the terms of the contract."
There was talk of a byline strike as early as last Tuesday. Glickson added that the blackout is not certain, writing, "We don’t know yet if we will have to go down this road, but it is vital that we be prepared."
UPDATE: Union members also gathered in the office lobby on Monday afternoon to welcome new CEO Mark Thompson. Employees posed for a group picture holding signs that read "Save Our Times" and "Without us, it's just white space" and wearing "Guild" buttons.
Approximately 258 employees participated, according to Times science correspondent Donald G. McNeil Jr., who said that it was organized "more hastily" than the walkout earlier this month. He told The Huffington Post that the gesture was "meant to be friendly, but to send the same message — we can empty the newsroom on deadline."
The Times' Washington bureau pulled a similar move:
"What we're looking for is for [Thompson] to help us out," Glickson told The Huffington Post. "That would be great." He speculated that Thompson, who doesn't officially start his new role until November, won't intervene in the next two weeks, but might have to if the dispute isn't resolved soon.
The union and Times management are currently in mediation to help resolve the deadlock over a contract. Glickson added that some progress is being made on issues that have posed roadblocks, but that the details of the financial package have yet to be discussed.
Below, read the full text of Glickson's memo (via Romenesko):
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: October 21, 2012 4:59:47 PM EDT To: Subject: Mobilization Message: Get ready for next action tomorrow: Welcome New CEO
One week into mediation, negotiators for the company continue to propose what amount to the most radical pay cuts for the New York Times staff in modern history.
We will spare no effort to make these talks succeed. But we cannot avert our eyes from the blunt truth that we are on the brink of a crisis — for The Times, for us, and for the millions of people who depend on our coverage of the world. And it is a needless, pointless, corrosive crisis.
Those of us who have dedicated so much of our selves to the Times must speak and act now. A major negotiating session is scheduled for next Sunday.
Before then, there’s much to do.
Here are two ways for you to pitch in immediately.
The company’s new CEO, Mark Thompson, is expected to begin work Monday. Let’s get together in the lobby at 3:40 for a group picture. We want to welcome him — and acquaint him with the grave situation he has walked into.
Over the last few days, hundreds of people from every department, including many of our best known journalists, have quietly signed pledges to withhold their bylines, photo credits, and producing credits. They have also pledged to work strictly to the terms of the contract. We don’t know yet if we will have to go down this road, but it is vital that we be prepared. If you haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, ask around.
Make time Monday afternoon at 3:40 to gather in the lobby. More details Monday morning, but count on it being short and sweet. Well, not too sweet.
It’s important to know that mediation has made significant progress, but on the major, show-stopping issue, we’re still stuck. After 20 months of talks, company negotiators are repeating the same broken formula. In real dollars, they’re demanding pay cuts as far as the eye can see.
It is high time for them to believe us. We will accept nothing less than fair wages and benefits.
The Mobilization Committee
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Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., publisher
Mark Thompson, CEO
Dean Baquet, managing editor
David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief
Bill Keller, columnist and former executive editor
Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor
Paul Krugman, columnist
Thomas Friedman, columnist
Maureen Dowd, columnist
James Risen, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter
David Brooks, columnist
Gail Collins (center), columnist
Frank Bruni, columnist
Nicholas Kristof, columnist
Charles Blow, columnist
Joe Nocera, columnist
Bill Cunningham, fashion photographer
Cathy Horyn, fashion critic
Mark Bittman, food columnist
Leah Finnegan, news assistant, Op-Ed/Sunday Review