Top N.Y. Times Staffers Pen Angry Letter to Publisher

Cuts to pensions of foreign bureau staffers among their complaints

Hundreds of New York Times staffers have composed an open letter to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. expressing their "profound dismay” regarding a number of recent company decisions.

First reported on by the Huffington Post, the open letter was posted to saveourtimes.com last week, and has been signed by more than 270 staffers so far.

The aggrieved include film critic Manohla Dargis, basketball writer Howard Beck, Washington correspondent Eric Schmitt and art critic Roberta Smith, among many others.

Huffington Post's Michael Calderone spoke with Bill O’Meara, president of the New York Newspaper Guild, who said that some staffers considered storming Sulzberger’s office, but opted for the letter instead.

So what are the grievances?

Last week, the Times notified foreign citizens working at the paper's overseas bureaus that their pensions would be frozen.

In their letter, Times employees express dismay for foreign staffers who have "risked their lives so that we can do our jobs."

Also Read: N.Y. Times CEO Janet Robinson to Retire

But, as the Huffington Post noted, a number of other recent decisions by Times senior management probably factor into the letter.

Over the last several years, Times employees have faced pay cuts, layoffs and buyouts, they have been working without a collective bargaining agreement since March, and they have gone without cost-of-living raises this year.  

In fact, several veteran staffers, including sports columnist George Vecsey and metro columnist Clyde Haberman, took buyouts just this month.

The letter also noted that a member of "senior management" is leaving the company with a "very generous severance and retirement package" — a not so subtle dig at outgoing CEO Janet Robinson, who will receive a $15 million exit package.

A Times spokesperson issued the following comment: "We are sticking to our policy of not commenting on the [labor] negotiations while they are ongoing. We continue to look forward to reaching an agreement with the Guild."

The letter overshadowed executive editor Jill Abramson’s latest masthead change. She announced on Tuesday that design director Tom Bodkin has been promoted to the position of deputy managing editor.

Abramson, who took over the top editorial spot from Bill Keller in September, already promoted Susan Chira and Richard L. Berke to assistant managing editor positions.