This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Editor & Publisher is reporting that members of The Wall Street Journal newsroom are urging for a strike vote sooner than later. They've been working without a contract for much of 2007 and are unhappy with management's most recent contract proposal. Jim Browning, the lead negotiator for the unionized newsroom employees, thinks the vote could take place as early as this coming weekend.
"A lot of people want to have a strike vote," Browning said. "It is increasingly likely; a lot of people want that to happen."
He said the mood is sharply different from the last contract talks four years ago, which ended with a four-year deal that included no raise the first year and annual raises of 2.5% to 4 % in the following three years.
"Last time around, people were very reluctant to discuss a strike, that has changed," Browning said. "Now people, especially younger people, say 'when are we taking a strike vote?'"
At issue is the final offer from management, which Browning said was put forth last week. The proposal calls for a three-year agreement, with a 3% raise each year, but a sharp increase in health benefit premiums, as much as double the current fee in some cases.
"They are also trying to water down the inflation protection that kicked in last year," Browning said. The two sides are set to meet again on Wednesday. The union's last contract expired in January, but talks have been ongoing since November.
"They've been bad from the start," Browning, a 28-year Wall Street Journal reporter, said of the negotiations. "Very acrimonious."