New York Reuters Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

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(AP) Union-represented workers at the U.S. operations of Reuters Group PLC have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the financial news and information company, the head of the union said today.

Barry Lipton, president of the Newspaper Guild of New York, said the strike authorization proposal passed by a margin of 302 to 4, according to results compiled Friday morning. The guild represents about 450 of the 2,000 U.S.-based employees of Reuters, and an overwhelming majority of the editorial employees.

“Reuters has an extraordinarily onerous list of givebacks on the table, including a partial wage freeze, drastic reduction in pension benefits, and decimation of health insurance coverage while at the same time demanding higher contributions for the coverage,” Lipton said. “They’re [also] attempting to strip away protections against layoffs that our employees now enjoy.”

Lipton said the union was still hopeful for an amicable resolution to the contract negotiations, which have gone on for two years, since the last contract expired.

However, Lipton also noted that the overwhelming support of the strike authorization “should make it absolutely clear to Reuters management how their proposals have alienated and angered their guild-represented employees.”

Stephen Naru, a spokesman for the London-based company, said: “We’re committed to achieving a fair and equitable contract for all concerned, and we’re confident that will happen.” He declined further comment on the matter.

The Newspaper Guild also represents workers at The New York Times, The Washington Post Co.’s Newsweek magazine, and magazines at Time Inc., a division of Time Warner Inc.

Reuters U.S. shares fell 58 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $47.19 in midday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. They have traded in a range of $31.45 and $49.94 over the past 52 weeks.

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