Staffers at Wirecutter, the product-review company owned by the New York Times, announced plans to walkout during Black Friday week, the site’s busiest week of the year. They are protesting management’s refusal to bargain in good faith with members of the Wirecutter Union, including failing to provide information necessary to negotiate over wages. The issues at stake include in negotiations include higher pay minimums, annual guaranteed raises, caps on increases to healthcare costs, and banning non-disclosure agreements for cases of harassment and discrimination.
“In the two years we’ve been in bargaining, Wirecutter’s revenue and readership has grown enormously, and still the Times is nickel-and-diming its editorial staff—we have many union members who do more and earn less than I did in my first big media job fifteen years ago,” said Tim Heffernan, senior staff writer at the site. “A contract would ensure that we have a real say in our compensation and in our future at the Times.”
The Times announced in its latest quarterly earnings report that Wirecutter has added 10,000 paid subscribers and continues to bring in record revenue for the Times, which is sitting on about $1 billion in cash. Times management has only offered guaranteed annual raises of 0.5%, leaving most raises to discretionary merit, despite inflation at 5.4%.
“The journalism industry has a well-documented diversity problem. The Times has made bold statements about improving diversity and equity but remains resistant to meaningful and powerful changes that would address pay equity and access to these jobs. We’re giving the company an opportunity to set a precedent for the industry by investing in its current and future staff,” says Katie Okamoto, a staff writer at Wirecutter.
If a deal is not reached, the Wirecutter Union is calling on readers and subscribers not to shop through the site on Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Supporters can sign up here to stay updated on the status of contract talks and virtual picket.
“Workers are the reason Wirecutter is a much-relied upon publication” says Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York. “Their labor is the heart of the company and their fight for respect, for a fair contract guarantees them a voice in their own workplace.”
Members of the three unions at the New York Times—The Times Guild, Times Tech Guild, and Wirecutter Union—will protest Times management’s anti-union tactics at an in-person rally outside the Times building at 12 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Nov. 16.
Follow the Wirecutter Union on Twitter @wirecutterunion.