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Reuters journalists in New York begin working to rule over slow contract talks

Journalists at Reuters in New York began a work-to-rule action on Monday in protest at what they said was the slow pace of contract talks between the company and their union, The NewsGuild of New York.

Entire desks across busy newsrooms took breaks at their appointed times and made sure to clock out exactly at the end of each shift, the New York Daily News reported.

Union representative Susan DeCarava said: “There’s a very robust network of activists in our Thomson Reuters shop... the idea came out of different members contacting The Guild and asking what they can do.” No end date has been set for the work-to-rule action, she said.

The NewsGuild and Reuters have been in contract talks for three-and-a-half years. They are due to meet for a second time with a federal mediator today.

“I think this has to continue until we get a decent contract,” said Dan Grebler, a desk editor and chair of the company’s NewsGuild unit.

Grebler said it was a novel experience for many Reuters journalists to walk away from their desks for an hour to eat lunch.

“My understanding is that on one desk in particular, they all went out for the whole hour, and their shop steward told me they were quite thankful for The Guild declaring the work-to-rule, because that’s not how they’ve been working,” Grebler said.

Contract talks with Reuters have stalled on the issue of annual cost-of-living raises, according to the Guild.

The company has offered an annual increase of one to 1.5 per cent. Reuters also wants to implement merit-based wage increases set and awarded at management discretion.

DeCarava said the work-to-rule means no more staying late, working through breaks and taking calls on weekends.

The New York Daily News said a spokeswoman for Reuters did not immediately return an email for comment. ■

The New York Daily News