In the United States, journalists from Thomson Reuters Corp. are preparing to launch an all-day strike on Thursday, the first in decades among the media company’s long-unionized staff.
Employees plan to go on a 24-hour strike at 6 a.m. New York time on Thursday after claiming the company failed to negotiate wage increases fairly, according to Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild, which represents Reuters journalists, photographers and videographers based in the United States. The group said about 90% of the roughly 300 Reuters employees it represents had agreed to participate.
The news agency offered a three-year contract with guaranteed annual salary increases of 1%, the union said, which would erode employees’ purchasing power amid 9% inflation. Guild members believe Reuters officials are not working with them in good faith and have also filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board. They join a growing group of media workers who have recently pushed back against what they say is unfair treatment from their employers.
“In 2020, we’ve all been asked to step in,” said energy journalist Tim McLaughlin, a member of the union’s bargaining committee. “Everyone rose to the occasion, and we thought – wrongly in fact – that we would get something in return.”
In an emailed statement, Reuters said it was “fully engaged in constructive negotiations with the NewsGuild” to reach a contract. “These conversations are ongoing and we will continue to work with the Guild Committee to agree mutually acceptable terms,” the company said.
Reuters employs about 2,500 journalists in nearly 200 cities in total, according to its website. The guild represents employees at outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and Bloomberg Industry Group, a subsidiary of Bloomberg LP. Bloomberg LP, parent company of Bloomberg News, competes with Reuters as a provider of financial news and services.
The Reuters strike comes amid a wave of increased activism and organizing among media workers. The NewsGuild has prevailed in union elections in recent years in publications such as the Los Angeles Times. He has also organized strikes over the past year at outlets such as Buzzfeed, the Miami Herald and, on Black Friday, the New York Times Co.’s Wirecutter product review. to place.
Reuters employees timed Thursday’s walkout to coincide with the company’s second-quarter earnings announcement, hoping to maximize management and customer attention. While one-day strikes often have more impact on companies’ public image than on their operations, the guild said it expects the strike to disrupt the information-gathering work of Reuters by forcing management to rely on overseas reporters or editors to cover the day’s events.
In its statement, Reuters said: “We have extensive contingency plans in place which will minimize this brief disruption and are confident that we will provide the highest quality of service to all of our customers.”
The media company said in its first-quarter earnings report in May that sales and revenue beat expectations, with the company’s total revenue up 6% from a year earlier, to $1.67 billion. One of Reuters’ top clients is automatically paying more due to rising inflation, says its 2021 annual report report. The London Stock Exchange Group Plc, which bought a data business from Reuters in 2019, will pay the media company at least $339 million a year until 2048, and “the contract requires adjustments related to developments consumer price index,” according to the report.
During the May earnings announcement, Thomson Reuters CEO Steve Hasker said the company would invest in its business and its people. But members of the guild, whose last union contract expired at the end of 2020, said the company has failed to give back to the employees who fueled its success.
“Most media companies are having a hard time, but we’re not,” McLaughlin said, adding that the attitude of Reuters employees ranges “from pissed off to apoplectic.”
A 1% wage increase would equate to an 8% drop in purchasing power, according to Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, who served as the Labor Department’s chief economist under President Barack Obama. And some economic research suggests that inflation will not decline in the near future.
“It’s no surprise that workers disagree with this,” Shierholz said. “In order to fully offset inflation, a large increase will be needed at this time.”