Angry New York Times staffers took to the company's annual shareholders meeting in a flagrant display of discontent with the paper's handling of contract negotiations on Wednesday.
Nearly seventy New York Times staffers formed "a silent gauntlet" outside the meeting, according to the Newspaper Guild of New York. Guild members have been locked in an increasingly contentious war with the paper's management since their contract expired over a year ago. The protest on Wednesday took the battle to new levels.
Employees lined up in the lobby of the newspaper's Manhattan headquarters, handing out leaflets criticizing the company's proposed contract terms. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., other members of the Sulzberger family and executives had to walk past them on their way to the meeting.
Outside of the building, more staffers handed out other materials and protested with a large poster that read “Without Journalists and Staff, The Times is Just White Space.” The Newspaper Guild posted pictures of the protest to its Facebook page.
The organization wrote on Wednesday, "Local leaders say members are getting angrier by the day about the lack of progress on a fair contract and the company's continuing demands for a 10 to 15 percent cut in compensation – demands made while handing a $24 million severance package to a departing CEO."
The protest is the latest development in the protracted struggle over contract negotiations at the Times. The tension has become increasingly public in recent months. Staffers protested outside a meeting of top editors in February — two months after signing an open letter expressing their "profound dismay" with the company's call to freeze their pension plans and end their independent health insurance, amongst other things.
Last week, staffers put out a new video speaking out against the proposed change to pension plans. One staffer, Donald G. McNeil Jr., went on record saying that the money he stood to lose over the course of his career "is worth risking a strike over."