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The New York Daily News on Friday stiffed its journalists out of a modest bonus it had promised them for their hard work during the pandemic.
The New York-metropolitan area newspaper, which has successfully delivered on its pledged bonuses to management, cited staffers’ efforts to unionize — marking the latest slight to the editorial employees who suffered a permanent closing of their newsroom last year.
The one-time bonuses were first dangled in front of staffers on Jan. 27 by parent company Tribune Publishing, which had promised the one-time payments to all non-unionized employees across its empire by March 26.
Instead, Daily News editor-in-chief Robert York on Friday announced that his non-management journalists would not be getting paid — thanks to their efforts to join the New Guild of New York.
“At this time, the Daily News is taking a neutral position regarding bonuses for newsroom employees,” York said Friday in an email sent to all members who would be in the bargaining unit, which is about 70 people.
Tribune CEO Terry Jaminez had initially promised a “modest lump sum bonus to our non-union employees on or about March 26.” At the time he said, “Any bonus for union-represented employees would be subject to collective bargaining.”
Many of Tribune’s nine papers are represented by various chapters of the News Guild, including the Hartford-Courant and the Chicago Tribune. But not the Daily News — at least not yet.
In early February, more than 80 percent of Daily News editorial staffers turned in cards saying they wanted to be represented by the Guild. Tribune declined to recognize the union, however, and requested a vote supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The vote has yet to be scheduled.
The Guild, which won’t be formally certified as the bargaining agent for the Daily News until after the votes are counted, has blasted the move as “union-busting.”
“It’s a ridiculous, union-busting tactic and claim and incredibly disrespectful to the workers,” said a spokesman for the Guild. “Our members deserve the raise they were promised.”
“Tribune Publishing won’t recognize our union, but it also won’t pay us the bonuses it promised to ‘non-union’ employees — and the company is using the union election process it forced us into as an excuse to not us those checks,” the spokesman said.
A Tribune spokesman declined to comment.
Tribune shocked the media world and New Yorkers in 2018 when it announced it would slashing the Daily News’ newsroom staff by 50 percent, effective immediately. The pandemic has resulted in even more cutbacks, including furloughs and pay cuts.
In August, staffers were told they would never work in a newsroom again as the company worked to permanently close the paper’s physical newsroom at 4 New York Plaza in downtown Manhattan.