Wirecutter workers on strike; most tweets ratioed

100% of workers at Wirecutter, the product-review company owned by the New York Times, are on strike. The job action, which began on Black Friday, will wrap up after today – Cyber Monday. The work stoppage was timed to coincide with company’s busiest week of the year and all signs indicate that it was extremely effective.

After roughly two years of bargaining for a first contract and with the Times sitting on about $1 billion in cash, management is offering staffers guaranteed annual raises of just 0.5%. Wirecutter workers earn $43,000 less, on average, than others in the Times newsroom. Even Times fellows, jobs that are intended to train new journalists, are paid a significantly higher salary than the starting rate for Wirecutter writers.

Many union members believe that the company’s intransigence toward Wirecutter workers is intended – at least in part – to send an anti-union message to tech employees who are unionizing as the New York Times Tech Guild.

Management rationalizes Wirecutter’s low pay by suggesting they’re not really part of the New York Times. But their work appears in the paper and on the Times’ digital platform regularly.

Thom Dunn, a writer for Wirecutter, tweeted his reasons for striking in a moving thread today. He’s had to work two jobs to make ends meet, and when his son was born six weeks prematurely last year, he had to apply for an emergency grant designed for low-income artists to pay the bill.

Wirecutter staffers are thrilled with the support they’ve received. Thousands of people have been boycotting and a GoFundMe account raised more than $40,000 in donations to a strike fund. Most of the company’s tweets received replies urging them to negotiate in good faith – not “likes” or retweets.

They’ve won high-profile support as well, including from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).

“What a way to wrap up Strikesgiving,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. “I’m so proud of the workers at Wirecutter for taking bold action to secure their future and send a clear message to the company. Collective action gets the goods!”

Photo at top: Wirecutter Union leader Sarah Kobos addresses picketers outside the New York Times on Nov. 16.