Media workers strike to protest layoffs at New York Daily News, Forbes and Condé Nast

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Media workers strike to protest layoffs at New York Daily News, Forbes and Condé Nast

Journalists at The New York Daily News and Forbes walked off the job Thursday amid contentious contract talks with management and a difficult few weeks in the news industry.

Both strike are historic: It’s the first-ever at the business-focused magazine in more than a century, and the first at the storied newspaper in more than three decades, according to the NewsGuild of New York.

The one-day strike at the Daily News coincides with Forbes walkout, which runs through Monday.

In midtown Manhattan, dozens of Daily News staffers and their supporters picketed Thursday outside a small co-working space — the newspaper’s office since its lower Manhattan newsroom was shuttered in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in 1919, it was once the largest circulating newspaper in the country.

Strikers marched around the building holding signs that read “New York Needs Its Hometown Paper” and “Alden to News: Drop Dead,” a reference to the tabloid’s famous 1975 headline. They also put up a large inflatable rat that has become increasingly familiar at other union protests.

The labor union’s actions come at a tumultuous time for media outlets, an increasing number of which are owned by billionaires. This week, Time magazine and Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and other marquee magazines, both announced significant job cuts. Staffers at Condé Nast publications went on a one-day strike.

Then the Los Angeles Times laid off more than 100 employees, or more than 20% of its newsroom, with staffers walking out last week in protest.

Meanwhile more than 200 workers at The Washington Post, owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accepted buyouts in the waning days of 2023. And potentially the entire staff at Sports Illustrated could be laid off as the publisher of the iconic magazine faces money troubles.

The Daily News union says their walkout is in protest of cost-cutting moves by owners Alden Global Capital, an investment firm that purchased the storied paper in 2021. The union formed in 2021 and is negotiating its first contract with the company.

“We are fed up with Alden Global Capital’s constant cuts and apparent commitment to shrinking the paper,” Michael Gartland, a reporter and the union’s steward, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. He cited efforts to curb overtime pay, among other problems.

Unionized journalists at Forbes, who also organized in 2021, said they’re similarly protesting stalled contract negotiations that have lasted more than two years, among other workplace issues.

“Management’s only interest is to delay, stall and obstruct, as well as try to block our members from protected union action,” Andrea Murphy, an editor and the union’s chair, said in a statement. “We are taking this unprecedented step to show that we will not allow such disrespectful behavior towards our negotiations to continue.”

Spokespeople for The Daily News and Alden Global Capital, which has acquired scores of newspapers across the country and proceeded to impose layoffs and other cost-cutting measures, didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment Thursday.

Forbes spokesperson Laura Brusca said the company is “working diligently” to reach a contract with the union. She also confirmed the company told employees Thursday it would lay off less than 3% of its staff.

“We are disappointed by the Union’s decision to stage a walk-out, but respect their right to take this action,” she wrote in an email.

The union called the layoffs another example of the company’s “union-busting” efforts. “We want the company to know, despite their efforts to intimidate us, that we are 100% not backing down,” Murphy said in a statement.