Staffers at New York City weekly The Village Voice are currently staging a walk-out at their Lower Manhattan offices over wage and benefits cuts, alleged anti-union intimidation, and something every human can relate to: shitty coffee.

In a press release distributed on Monday morning, the UAW Local 2110’s Village Voice Bargaining Unit articulated their demands:

Our demands this time around are very, very simple: better pay, better working conditions, particularly for our overburdened sales staff, and to keep our healthcare coverage.

We also want better coffee. Our coffee is shit.

Management has countered with a proposal that, among many other things, would:

  • Raise our already low salaries by only $10/week
  • Raise our healthcare costs by at least $200 a month. Employees with children could see increases of much, much more.
  • Cut family leave time in half.
  • Make it easier to fire employees without putting them on probation first.
  • Slash severance payments in half for the Voice’s most senior employees.

Management is also trying to gut several health and safety provisions from our contract, calling them “obsolete.” And they want to eliminate the small supplemental payment for the position of Affirmative Action & Diversity Coordinator, the staff member tasked with making sure that we’re a diverse and inclusive workplace. Instead, they would generously allow that person to do the work for free. (At first, they tried to scrap the position altogether, but have grudgingly conceded that perhaps that one isn’t quite “obsolete” just yet.)

“Earlier in the week,” the release added, “we put up flyers and pro-union messages in the conference room. Management illegally removed them and complained that we had ‘defaced’ that room, which seems like a strong word. The conference room is now kept locked.”

The Voice is currently owned by Voice Media Group, a private Denver-based holding company which owns ten other alternative weeklies, including L.A. Weekly, Minneapolis City Pages, and Miami New Times. (VMG acquired the Voice and other papers in 2012 from the paper’s prior holding company, Village Voice Media Holdings.)

A spokesperson for the Voice Media Group did not immediately return a message left on his phone.

[Photo credit: @araceli]