New York Times staffers revolt, push holiday weekend boycott amid strike

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Unionized workers at The New York Times and its product-review website Wirecutter declared they are on strike over the Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as pay negotiations for employees grounded to a halt.

The union representing the employees claims they have been mired in contract negotiations for two years. During that time, the Times has evidently not budged on “unfair labor practices” that reportedly underpay Wirecutter staff.

“Our staff works around the clock during the Black Friday shopping week, our busiest and most profitable time of year, putting in extra hours over the holiday to serve our readers,” the union declared in a statement.

“Our labor continues to bring in record revenue for the Times and helped to grow Wirecutter by 10k subscribers in the past quarter,” it added.

The Wirecutter union belongs to the News Guild of New York, which represents workers at a number of newsrooms in the Big Apple. The strike was announced in a 12 a.m. tweet on Thursday and encouraged New York Times employees to not cross the “digital picket line.”

“100 PERCENT of @wirecutterunion is ON STRIKE starting today!” Times reporter Davey Alba proclaimed. “These posts are brought to you by NYT assigning work to middle managers & freelancers instead of paying @wirecutterunion a TOTAL OF $300,000 in raises distributed across 66 PEOPLE! NYT has ONE BILLION DOLLARS in cash!”

Alba also urged Twitter users, “Don’t click these links! Don’t shop through Wirecutter this Black Friday! Pass it along!”

Times tech reporter Sheera Frenkel sent out a reminder via Twitter, “Just a reminder that the @wirecutterunion is on strike. Clicking on any wirecutter links from today through Black Friday is crossing the picket line.”

“[Wirecutter] employees are on strike today. In solidarity, boycott the website,” Times breaking news reporter Isabella Grullón Paz wrote.

The Wirecutter Union Unit Chair Nick Guy told the Wall Street Journal that they anticipate workers going back to their jobs following the busy shopping weekend.

“It’s not an indefinite strike so we’ll see how bargaining goes when we do return,” Guy stated. “Hopefully we’ll be able to wrap this up in a way that is fair to our members.”

A spokesperson for The New York Times said in a statement that they are working with the union to reach an agreement on pay, according to Fox News.

“The New York Times has a long history of productive relationships with unions to advance our shared objectives,” commented spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha.

“We’re actively working with the Wirecutter Union to reach a collective bargaining agreement that continues to reward our employees for their work and contributions to the Times’s success, and we look forward to continuing those negotiations at the bargaining table in early December,” she continued.

Journalists from a number of news organizations as well as activists such as Democratic Socialists of America also declared their support for Wirecutter employees.

On Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported that the Times was recruiting “scab” labor to fill the void during the strike by relying on “casual employees.”

“The New York Times is treating workers like they’re expendable and engaging in exactly the kind of worker exploitation they have condemned at other companies,” Wirecutter senior photo editor and interim vice-chair of the union Sarah Kobos stated. “We’re appalled that the Times is relying on our non-union colleagues at the Times to work overtime during a holiday weekend rather than sitting down at the table with us and hammering out a contract once and for all.”

A Times spokesperson responded, “All of the casual employees were scheduled to work during this period before the strike was announced” and denied they were using “scab” labor.

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