NYT Reaps What It Sowed: 1,300 Employees Refuse to Return to Office, Lambaste Execs for Meager ‘Perk’

It would seem that everyone in America is infuriated about inflation. And certainly with good reason.

The cost of living continues to increase while wages lag woefully behind, if any increases are happening at all.

Inflation has been reported as being at about a 40-year high, according to Pew Research Center. Some parts of the world are being hit harder than others.

As for the United States, it’s also true that some places are being hit harder than others. New York City, New York is definitely feeling the impact of rampant inflation. It ranks 21 overall for the worst hit cities, according to WalletHub.

The overall inflation rate for the United States in the month of August was 8.3 percent. That level is being blamed on a number of factors — such as COVID, the Ukraine crisis and labor shortages.

While Americans are feeling the effects of inflation, businesses are also trying to return to pre-pandemic policies.

Many companies are working on return-to-work policies, with management attempting to create a situation that allows workers feel safe and that is affordable for the company, according to Fortune. In most cases, a hybrid policy, where workers spend some time working remote and some time in the office, seems to be preferred.

The New York Times is one such company, attempting to create a mandatory three-day-a-week policy.

A NYT representative explained there were “not a set number of days mandated for working in the office, and it is up to individual departments to determine what works for their teams,” according to the New York Post. “We continue to believe that a hybrid work environment best suits the New York Times at this moment.”

Many of the workers are “livid” about this.

“‘People are livid’ … being forced to return to the office during a period of high inflation means workers will have to spend more money on gas, mass transit, clothing and lunches, despite the lack of salary increases,” Tom Coffey, a NYT veteran editor and Contract Action Committee member, told the New York Post.

In what could be considered a slap in the face to employees, Remy Tumin, a writer for the NYT, posted to her Twitter account that the New York Times provided “branded lunch boxes” as a “return-to-office perk.”

Perhaps, this ridiculous token was intended to be an absurd solution to resolving the price of lunches.

But to add insult to injury, it didn’t even have anything in it. Not even coupons to purchase peanut butter, jelly and some bread.

“They were empty,” one source told the Post. “And the lunch box had no handles.”

Besides that, lunch would be the least of the concerns listed by employees, especially when they’re short on cash in a city hit hard by inflation and buying food may be difficult in the first place.

Other than the lunch box, Coffey said he was given a “swag bag” to celebrate his 25th anniversary with the company, which included “merch emblazoned with the NYT logo, like an umbrella and a water bottle,” the Post reported.

“I don’t need knick-knacks,” he wrote in an email. “I need a raise.”

All of this comes as talks regarding salary increases have stalled, and it’s definitely hard to blame these workers for deciding to sign a pledge stating that they won’t return to the office until the pending wage dispute is settled.

According to the Post, sources claim that NYT managment has delayed wage negotiations to resolve other issues “such as adding Juneteenth, Veterans Day and Indigenous Peoples Day to the calendar.”

However,  the last wage increase was back in March 2020.

“The company negotiators are not slow-walking, they are no-walking the wage negotiations,” Coffey said.

There are 1,316 Times employees who are refusing to come back to the office, though many are willing to continue working from home.

The News Guild, representing the workers, is currently demanding an 8 percent wage increase, as well as a 5.25 percent cost-of-living increase and the option for workers to work remotely indefinitely, “with no mandatory return to offices before July 2023,” the Post reported.

A NYT representative responded, saying, “We respect the rights of our colleagues in the Guild to make their voices heard. We’re actively working with the NYT NewsGuild to reach a collective bargaining agreement that financially rewards our journalists for their contributions to the success of The Times, is fiscally responsible as the company remains in a growth mode and continues to take into account the industry landscape.”

The representative went on to say that the company had issued a new proposal and the company looks “forward to making progress toward an agreement.”

The next negotiation meeting will be on Wednesday and will be livestreamed for employees.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.