People Are Playing 'Strikle' Instead of 'Wordle' In Solidarity With The New York Times Union Walk-Out

Wordle fans who don't want to cross a picket line can still get their fix thanks to a strike-themed version called Strikle. 
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More than 1,100 members of the New York Times union are on a 24-hour strike, after pledging to walk out last Friday if the company refused to meet its demands of a fair contract by December 8. Members of the union have called on the public to avoid engaging with any of the Times's platforms today, including its popular daily word game Wordle, saying in a release, “Read local news. Listen to public radio. Make something from a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak.” 

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Management at the Times has continued to refuse the $65,000 minimum salary proposed by the union, known as the New York Times Guild, and has failed to meet the guild’s needs. The union points out that the company’s management has attempted to cut funding for retirement benefits and kill worker pension plans, for example. The contract between the company and the guild expired in March 2021 and about 40 bargaining sessions have been held since. The last walk-out of this scale at the Times was a multi-day strike in September and October of 1965. 

The guild’s focus on Wordle stems from the fact that the company purchased the game for over a million dollars in January. The New York Times Guild tweeted last Friday, “In 2022, the @nytimes spent millions of dollars to purchase Wordle and The Athletic and allocated $150 million in stock buybacks to its investors. And yet it is still offering wage ‘increases’ that amount to pay cuts during record-high inflation.” Wordle was trending on Twitter on Thursday, with everyone from union members to actor Mark Ruffalo encouraging users to break their Wordle streaks.  

Wordle fans who don't want to cross a picket line can still get their fix thanks to a strike-themed version called Strikle. 

In solidarity with the strike, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1624 labor union in Austin, Texas named Chris Pitts created strikle.org, a special, alternative puzzle for today’s walk-out. 

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“Many people told me about how they played Wordle daily, but they would be breaking their streaks in order to stand in solidarity with NYT workers," Pitts told Motherboard. "This got me thinking about how it would be cool to create a Wordle alternative so that people could still play without crossing the NYT picket line. So last night, I created Strikle to fill that need and also help spread awareness of the walkout.”

After Pitts coded the site, he posted it to GitHub so the code can be accessed by anyone. The solution to Strikle is fitting, and so is what happens after solving the puzzle—spoilers follow from here. 

The answer to the puzzle is SCABS. When you type SCABS in, the pro-union anthem “Solidarity Forever” begins playing and the website reads, “Thats right! The word was SCABS. We hate them! Thank you for not being one!” 

“We are in a time where workers, from Starbucks to Amazon, are realizing how much power they have when they organize," Pitts said. "Organizing isn’t always easy, but the working class has no power divided, and all the power in the world as a collective. NYT workers are helping demonstrate how much power we can have when we organize, and it's really great to see them fight the tough fight against corporate greed, and inspire so many workers around the country to organize and stand up for their rights.

The guild’s rally began at 1 p.m. on Thursday in front of The New York Times building. Guild members were joined by larger unions such as New York State AFL-CIO and The NewsGuild of New York, to which The New York Times has belonged since 1941. 

In addition to not using the Times’s platform all-day Thursday, union members are encouraging the public to send a letter to the company’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, and CEO Meredith Levien. The letter has already been pre-written and can be sent out after users enter their name and email address. The subject of the letter reads, “New York Times, Give Your Employees the Contract They Deserve.” 

A speaker said at Thursday's walk-out rally, "This fight is not easy. A work stoppage is not easy... One of the beautiful parts of our union is that we are standing up for both workers and journalism. We do our best work when we are treated equitably.”