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NYT Staffers Voice Ire About Contract Negotiations in Letter to Publisher

Tuesday, 27 Dec 2011 03:42 PM

By Margaret Menge


Almost 300 New York Times staffers have signed a letter to publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger expressing their anger at recent decisions of the paper’s management, including pension freezes and proposed health insurance pullbacks in labor negotiations.

But the insurrection could have been worse. One group of staffers wanted to storm the publisher’s office, says Bill O’Meara, president of the New York Newspaper Guild, which represents journalists at the Times.

But cooler heads prevailed, and the staffers posted a letter on the Guild’s website instead of staging a sit-in.

The letter, which begins “Dear Arthur,” notes that the writers, editors, and others who signed it are “writing to express profound dismay at several recent developments.”

Among other things, it lists the freezing of the pensions of foreign employees working in bureaus overseas. But the letter focuses mostly on the negotiation of a new labor contract for newsroom employees: “Your negotiators have demanded a freeze of our pension plan and an end to our independent health insurance. We ask you to withdraw these demands so that negotiations on a new contract can proceed fruitfully and expeditiously.”

The letter also made a lightly veiled reference to the $15 million severance package reportedly awarded to the paper’s retiring CEO, Janet Robinson. As of today, 284 New York Times employees had signed the letter.


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