Reuters journalists in the United States plan the first strike in decades | Business and Economics News

Thomson Reuters Corp journalists in the United States are preparing for a one-day strike Thursday, the first in decades among the media company’s long-unionized employees.

Employees plan to start a 24-hour strike at 6 a.m. New York time Thursday after they claimed the company did not fairly negotiate a pay increase, according to Communications Workers of America NewsGuild, which represents Reuters reporters, photographers and video journalists in the United States. About 90 percent of the 300 or so Reuters employees it represents have agreed to participate, the group said.

The news organization has proposed a three-year contract with a guaranteed 1% annual wage increase, according to the union, which would erode the purchasing power of employees against a backdrop of 9% inflation. Union members believe the Reuters managers are not working with them in good faith, and have also filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board. They join an expanding group of media workers who have recently resisted what they called unfair treatment by employers.

“In 2020 we have all been asked to hurry up,” said Energy Correspondent Tim McLaughlin, a union negotiating committee member. “Everyone rose to the occasion, and we thought – wrongly as it turns out – that we would get something in return.”

In an emailed statement, Reuters said it was “fully committed to conducting constructive negotiations with NewsGuild” to reach a contract. “These talks are continuing and we will continue to work with the union committee to reach mutually agreed terms,” ​​the company said.

According to its website, Reuters employs about 2,500 journalists in nearly 200 cities. The union represents employees at outlets including the Washington Post, Politico and Bloomberg LP’s Bloomberg Industry Group. Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, competes with Reuters as a provider of news and financial services.

The Reuters strike comes amid a flurry of increased activism and organization among media workers. NewsGuild has won union elections in recent years in publications such as the Los Angeles Times. It has also launched strikes over the past year at outlets including Buzzfeed, the Miami Herald, and, during Black Friday, the New York Times’ Wirecutter product review site.

Reuters employees timed their exit Thursday to coincide with the company’s announcement of second-quarter earnings, hoping to boost interest from management and customers. While one-day strikes often affect the public image of companies more than their operations, the union said it expects the strike to disrupt Reuters’ newsgathering work by forcing management to rely on overseas reporters or editors to cover the day’s events.

“We have extensive contingency plans in place that will minimize this short disruption and are confident that we will provide the highest quality of service to all of our customers,” Reuters said in its statement.

Sales and revenue beat expectations, the media company said in its May first-quarter earnings report, with the company’s total revenue up 6% from a year earlier, to $1.67 billion. According to its 2021 annual report, a major Reuters client is automatically paying more due to rising inflation. The London Stock Exchange Group Plc, which bought a data company from Reuters in 2019, will pay the media company at least $339 million annually through 2048, and “the contract requires adjustments related to changes in the consumer price index,” according to a report.

In the May earnings announcement, Thomson Reuters CEO Steve Hasker said the company will invest in its business and employees. But union members, whose last union contract expired in late 2020, said the company has not returned the favor to employees who have fueled its success.

“Most media companies are going through hard times, but that’s not us,” McLaughlin said, adding that the attitude of Reuters employees ranges “from annoyance to strokes.”

A 1% increase in wages would result in an 8% decrease in purchasing power, according to Heidi Scherholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, who served as chief economist at the Labor Department under President Barack Obama. Some economic research indicates that inflation will not decline in the near future.

“It’s no surprise that workers disagree with this,” Scherholz said. “In order to fully offset inflation, a significant increase will now be required.”

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