Village Voice Staff Authorize Strike, Set Up Alternate Website

Employees of the Village Voice have authorized a strike and set up an alternate website, The Real Voice, where they will publish if they cannot agree to a new contract with management by midnight on June 30, when their current three-year contract expires.

The union said in a statement:

Over the past three years, the Voice staff has been cut by an estimated 60%, and average annual salaries have markedly diminished. Management has so far played hardball with the union, refusing to make an offer, while demanding extensive concessions from the newspaper’s staff, including a substantial, ever-increasing contribution to an inferior health plan, as well as the elimination of management’s own contribution to employees’ retirement accounts. The union membership sees the quality of their medical coverage as the critical issue.

Reached for comment this afternoon, Voice editor Tony Ortega remained optimistic that a deal will eventually be hammered out.

“Every three years, we negotiate a new contract with the union. And every three years, the union authorizes a strike vote,” he said. “This isn’t any different than previous years and I expect that by Thursday night we’ll have a new contract approved.”

Contract negotiations also went down to the wire in 2005 and 2008. Both times, a strike was averted at the eleventh hour.

Staff writer Graham Rayman was less sanguine about the progress of negotiations when reached moments ago, though he acknowledged, “These things can change very rapidly.”