Betrayed Staffers Rebel Against the 1% in New York Times Executive Suite

Talk about the 1% Percent! Even as the New York Times is freezing pensions for foreign citizen employees in overseas bureaus, it granted a $15 million golden parachute to former chief executive Janet Robinson after she abruptly departed the New York Times Co. t the end of 2011.

An online open letter to Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. from the local Newspaper Guild dated December 23 has so far been signed by 579 Times employees, including reporters and editors. Excerpts:

Dear Arthur:

We, the Guild leadership and many reporters, editors, account managers and other Times employees, Guild members and otherwise, are writing to express profound dismay at several recent developments.

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.

Chief Executive Robinson was not named in this paragraph, but the reference was clear:
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.

All of us who work at the Times deserve to have a secured retirement; this should not be a privilege cynically reserved to senior management. We strongly urge you to keep faith with your words and our shared mission of putting out the best newspaper in the world.

Kyle Smith made the hypocrisy point in his Thursday op-ed for Forbes:


It’s a classic American saga of top hats against hard hats, lions versus sheep, the one percenters and the forgotten 99. It’s a story about fundamental unfairness, corporate excess, and naked greed. There are exploited workers seething in revolt and spoiled plutocrats floating along on clouds of happy oblivion.

Somebody get The New York Times on the story. Wait a second – The New York Times is the story. So never mind.

New York Times employees plan an “urgent” Jan. 9 meeting to discuss their next move because its staff are incensed by the $15 million failure bonus given to outgoing CEO Janet Robinson. Robinson, whose disastrous tenure coincided with a drop in the parent company’s stock price from $40 to less than $8 in seven years, is getting $4.5 million to serve as a “consultant” this year (so the company can avail itself of 12 more months of that storied leadership).

As Smith reports, the Times has hardly touched this particular issue of the embattled 99 percent fighting corporate privilege, “limiting its coverage to the closing lines of a blog post.”

Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ