Reporters at Wall Street Journal to withhold bylines

Wall Street Journal reporters plan to withhold their bylines from articles for two days this week as contract negotiations with their employer, Dow Jones, turn increasingly rancorous.

The Independent Association of Publishers Employees, a union representing US reporters at the Journal, called on its members on Monday to withhold their bylines from stories in the Wednesday and Thursday editions of the paper.

“We do not take this step lightly—bylines are a tremendous source of pride for all,” union representative Tom Lauricella wrote in a note to union members. “But the intransigence of Dow Jones management forces our hand.”

In an interview, Lauricella said that an “overwhelming majority” of union members were supportive of the idea of a byline strike, and he expected wide participation. He noted, however, that overseas reporters for the Journal are not covered by the union, and several managers also write regularly for the paper.

Lauricella said the byline strike, the first in the history of Dow Jones, was being called because the company had threatened to stop negotiating with the union and to impose a “punitive” contract, he said.

“It came to this because Dow Jones continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith,” Lauricella said.
“The company is demanding we take benefits cuts and paltry wage raises that will leave us behind the cost of living.”

Dow Jones and the union have requested that a mediator facilitate the talks, which have stalled primarily over wages and a request from the company that employees make contributions to health care costs.

In January, the union’s rank and file overwhelmingly rejected a preliminary contract agreement that was made by the union’s former bargaining committee, which has since been replaced.

So far the byline strike is only expected to affect Journal reporters and not other Dow Jones reporters covered by the IAPE union, such as those working for Dow Jones Newswires or the newspaper’s website.

Tensions between Dow Jones and its union have been escalating in recent weeks. A number of reporters picketed in front of the company’s annual meeting in April and spoke up at the meeting itself to make their case directly to the company’s top management and board of directors.

A spokesperson for Dow Jones did not return a call seeking comment. - Sapa-AP

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