New York Times employees will picket outside their building with signs and flyers on Wednesday afternoon.
According to a press release obtained by The Huffington Post, "Times staff will carry signs and pass out informational literature to other employees and the public starting at 4 p.m. and continuing until 5:30. The event is only informational, and is not a job action or an attempt to stop employees from working."
Grant Glickson, the unit chair for the Newspaper Guild of New York at the Times, announced the plan to staffers in a memo on Tuesday. He urged employees to participate, writing, "It's time to bring our message outside the building."
The move will coincide with a social media effort. Times staffers took to Twitter on Wednesday, writing, "Retweet this to show support for @nytimes journalists & staff who are fighting wage and benefit cuts #saveourtimes."
Employees said that the situation is "becoming toxic" in an open letter to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. "Anger in the newsroom grows by the day," it read. "Fair compensation – wages and benefits that we have more than earned, and that the company can afford to pay – is at the heart of it."
Wednesday's initiatives indicate the union's readiness to take its fight to the public. The Guild and Times management have battled over a new contract for the past twenty months. The dispute has taken many twists and turns, including an employee walkout earlier this month.
Now, Times staffers are considering a byline strike. The two sides are currently in mediation to help break the deadlock over pension plans, wages and health care among other issues.
The picket comes just two days after union members welcomed new CEO Mark Thompson with a group picture (shown above). The message was "meant to be friendly," according to Times science correspondent Donald G. McNeil Jr., "but to send the same message [as the walkout] — we can empty the newsroom on deadline."
Click over to read the full text of employees' open letter to Times management.
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Bill Keller, columnist and former executive editor
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