New York Daily News staff hit the picket lines Thursday in a 24-hour walkout to protest the dragged-out negotiations with its hedge-fund owner since they unionized in 2021.
“Today, the New York Daily News Union is walking off the job for 24 hours,” the Daily News Union posted on X. “We are fed up with Alden Global Capital’s constant cuts and apparent commitment to shrinking the paper.”
The staffers are picketing the co-working space that substitutes as the Daily News’ newsroom since the company shuttered its Lower Manhattan offices in 2020.
The union’s post listed a series of issues the union has with Alden, including efforts to cut overtime for staffers. “Because the staff is so small, Metro reporters often work overtime to provide the best possible coverage,” the union posted. “Instead, Alden wants to pay less to create a worse paper.”
In a separate statement, the union said the overtime policy started in October, requiring approval in advance for any extra hours worked, “a departure from decades of practice.” The issue is one of several over which the union has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company.
The bosses also tried to lay off a 30-year employee in a “catch-up” meeting, the X post said, an effort the union fought successfully.
“Management wants to act as if we don’t exist,” the post said. “Any changes to working conditions legally must be bargained until we have a contract. Instead, we’ve got editors changing rules on the fly and writing their own articles.
Alden Global Capital, an investment firm that has bought up papers across the country and subsequently hacked staffing levels , bought the Daily News from Tribune Publishing in 2021.
Daily News staffers voted to form the union that year, but have never reached a contract with Alden, The New York Times reported.
Alden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Alden wants to act as if we are not being chiseled,” union steward and reporter Michael Gartland said in a statement. “We’re not going to engage in that
intellectual dishonesty. In reality, we’re being crushed for cash. As a result, staff is diminished, which means our ability to cover the city is diminished. We believe this is bad for New York.”
In a post on X, Gartland mimicked one of the News’ most famous headlines, “Alden to News: Drop Dead.”
The tabloid was once one of the nation’s largest circulation newspaper with over 1 million readers, but as with many media companies in recent years, readership and staff have both shrunk. Its last work stoppage came during a five-month strike in 1990-91, the Times reported.
“The News once boasted the ‘”‘Largest Circulation in America’;”‘ and was 4,000 employees strong,” the union statement continued. “By the year 2000, circulation dropped by nearly half and the publication underwent several rounds of devastating job cuts. Since the spring of 2022, 27 people have left and the Guild staff now totals 54 people.”
The staffers plan a rally on Thursday afternoon.
Separately, a “walkout fund” was posted on GoFundMe, with a goal of raising $10,000. Early Thursday, just $650 had been donated.
“The company is taking money directly from members to line their pockets,” said Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York, the parent union. “Today our members are showing Daily News management and Alden Global Capital very clearly that this is wholly unacceptable.”
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