Longtime NY Times CEO Janet Robinson is leaving the paper, according to most accounts forced out by Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger. Notwithstanding her forced departure, she is also reported to be receiving a $15 million severance package, and a fully-funded pension in retirement. Robinson’s package is among the things that have outraged the Newspaper Guild, a union with many members among the reporting and editorial staff at the Times. Under the banner of www.saveourtimes.com this group has taken the in-your-face step of sending a critical letter to Chairman Sulzberger. In part, they write,
Our foreign citizen employees in overseas bureaus have just had their pensions frozen with only a week’s warning. Some of these people have risked their lives so that we can do our jobs. A couple have even lost them. Many have spent their entire careers at the Times — indeed, some have letters from your father explaining the pension system — and deserve better treatment.At the same time, your negotiators have demanded a freeze of our pension plan and an end to our independent health insurance. . . . One of our colleagues in senior management recently announced her retirement from the paper, which is reported to include a very generous severance and retirement package, including full pension benefits.
Dated Decembers 23, 2011, the letter was at first signed by the Guild president and some staffers, with a note at the bottom, “(List in formation)”. Since then, it has continued garnering more and more signatures from Timespeople, past and present, with the count of signatories as of January 4 now up to 561.
Since I’m an optimist, I’ll offer a hopeful observation that this labor conflict at the Times ought to make the paper’s coverage of the #OWS Movement more respectful and less dismissive, as so much of their reporting has been over the past few months, like this snarky article by Ginia Bellafante from last September. I’ll be watching for any change of tone, even as I realize my optimism is probably unwarranted.