The New York Times, we learn from interoffice memos reproduced at Poynter.org, is asking its employees to take a five percent pay cut. Well, it’s actually telling many of them to take it, or leave it (to make it more pointed, they also announce 100 layoffs), but the many unionized members of the Times‘ staff will have to be negotiated with. In exchange, the trimmed employees get some extra time off.
The Times portrays the pay cuts, in the memos and in its own report, as temporary, and say they hope to reverse them next year — though “of course,” the memo says, “such a decision depends on the state of our business.”
Two thoughts come to mind.
First, according to Sharon Waxman, the Times has been trying to get its people to take lower pay voluntarily — by getting them to resign, “retrain” and rejoin as “web producers.” Despite the paper’s ostentatious devotion to Web 2.0, apparently not enough people went for it, necessitating this more drastic step. This reminds us of something that we’ve found in recent years to be a truism: When your boss says he wants you to bring you up-to-date, he actually means to bring you out-of-pocket, or out-the-door.
Second, somehow we don’t expect all those folks who blubbered so much yesterday over the AIG executive who was asked to accept less pay (and quit instead) to show similar empathy for the paycut employees of the Times. Call it a hunch.