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New York Times staffers wait for the company's new CEO, holding signs demanding a fair contract.
New York Times staffers are escalating their contract fight, greeting the company's new CEO en masse, considering a byline strike (in which they would write their pieces and take their photos, but withhold their bylines), and holding informational picketing. In an open letter to Times management, they lay out some of the issues that fuel their fight, contrasting how the paper's union workers are being treated in comparison to non-union employees:
The newsroom’s excluded employees received raises of 3 percent in 2011 and again in 2012, but management is demanding that the Guild accept raises totaling just 3.5 percent over five years – just a shade over what excluded employees received last year alone. [...]

So let us call this demand by its truthful name. The company’s negotiators are effectively proposing a 10 percent wage cut for many of us. That, after we voluntarily agreed to a 5 percent cut in 2009 because you told us that The Times needed it. After our previous three contracts failed to keep pace with inflation. And after 50% reductions in overtime. We are working harder than ever, on more platforms than ever, to maintain the Times’ position as the world’s greatest newspaper and news Web site. Yet in real dollars, our wages shrink every week.

Many excluded Times employees received bonuses of 26 percent in 2010, 32 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012. The company, of course, faces significant obligations for the excluded employees’ pension plan, just as it does for the Guild plan. Yet citing the obligations to our plan, the company—in sharp contrast to the generous bonuses given excluded employees —maintains that it can’t give Guild members raises that begin to keep pace with inflation. We took the painful, unpopular step of agreeing to management’s No. 1 objective– a pension freeze. In return for that concession, we expected that the company would be forthcoming on raises. It hasn’t been.

A fair day's wage
  • The Hyatt Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, California, is using iPod Touches to make housekeeping more "efficient" through surveillance. Workers are told by their iPods which rooms to clean in what order, and the time they spend in each room is tracked. Sarah Jaffe reports that it comes with an extra side of belittlement:
    The program is known as “Rex” because it features a running, tail-wagging dog animation. “Whoever thought of this system thought it was cute,” Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz, tells Working In These Times. “If you're a housekeeper you're not thought of as highly intelligent. This is American society. You're in a low position anyway. Now the dog has become our symbol at my Hyatt Andaz. We do run around like dogs, but still, we're not dogs.”
  • Nurses in El Paso, Texas, voted to join the National Nurses United.
  • With the NHL lockout continuing, fans and players are unlikely to get a full season. League management continues to try to pin game cancellations on the locked-out players for having the audacity not to cave immediately to the owners' money grab.

State and local legislation


  • Reconnecting McDowell, the effort by the American Federation of Teachers and others to work through the schools to revitalize a county in which more than 70 percent of kids come from homes where no one has a job, continues. Recently, the West Virginia Association of Student Councils donated 120 backpacks filled with school supplies, clothing, and more for McDowell students, and announced it will run two one-week summer camps for McDowell students, who have few recreation options due to the poverty and remoteness of their county.

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