NY Times, union agree to new contract

Posted at 11/14/12 8:21 AM

NEW YORK - Union members at The New York Times on Tuesday approved a new contract through 2016 which offers modest raises and a revamped pension, ending a deadlock of more than a year and a half.

Newspaper guild unit vice chair Steve Berman said the final numbers on the vote were not immediately available but that it was "clear" that members voted for ratification.

"No one is jumping up for joy but we got much more out of the company than they were offering 20 months ago," Berman told AFP.

"This is not anywhere near the recompense we deserve, because we are the best journalists on earth, but in this macroeconomic and industry climate, by keeping our solidarity and activism alive, we have the greatest of hopes and expectations that the next contract will be even better."

The agreement with the Newspaper Guild of New York calls for a one-time payment of three percent of gross annual pay, and a boost in pay scales of two percent in each of the next three years.

The current pension plan will freeze at the end of 2012 and be replaced at the beginning of 2013 by the new adjustable pension plan, with a company contribution of at least $7 million per year.

Employees on the traditional newspaper side of The Times and the company's digital operation will be covered by a single, unified contract expiring on March 30, 2016.

The talks which began in February 2011 were marked by bitter disputes over financial issues which led to a brief rally by union members in October and an online letter complaining about plans to cut wages and benefits.

The New York Times Company, seeking to manage a shift to a digital platform, recently reported net income for the third quarter of $2.28 million, a slump of 85 percent from a year ago.

Overall revenue fell 0.6 percent from a year ago to $449 million, hurt by weakness in advertising, but partially offset by gains in paid digital subscribers.

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