As The Boston Globe‘s largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, and the paper’s owner, The New York Times Co., get ready to meet today to continue negotiations over wage and benefit cuts, the New York Times takes an in-depth look at the Boston paper’s union struggles over the last year.
The drama started a year ago, when Times Co. execs visited Boston and revealed that Globe unions had been asked to agree to deep cuts — something many employees had no idea about. While some unions had apprised their members of what was going on, the guild had not.
This fact sets the stage for negotiations earlier this year, when all but one group approved Times-offered concessions in order to save their jobs and the flagging paper. But according to today’s article, the guild didn’t keep its own members in the loop.
“In membership meetings, guild leaders were clear that their major strategy was stalling, but most of the nearly 700 members did not attend those sessions, and many did not know that the company was seeking concessions,” the article said. “When The Globe eliminated dozens of guild jobs in late March, there was a widespread belief that there would be no more cuts for a long while.”
In April, the Globe reported on its Web site, boston.com, that the Times Co. was threatening the close the paper unless all of the unions agreed to major concessions within 30 days. In the negotiations that followed, the Times Co. offered the guild a number of cost-cutting offers to choose from, yet as the deadline loomed they took away many of their options.
“As a result, management said that the guild had to accept a 10.3 percent salary reduction, as well as nearly all the benefit cuts on the list, and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees for some 190 guild members,” the Times explained.
Although both sides could not agree on a deal, the guild decided to vote on the Times Co.’s proposal on June 8. It was rejected by a 277 to 265 vote, and the Globe‘s owner instead instituted a 23 percent unilateral pay cut to all guild members. The two sides have been in negotiations since last week and today’s meeting will hopefully finalize a deal for union members to vote on during a scheduled meeting on July 20.
However, all of the stalling and negotiating will most likely not pay off for the guild in the end. Even the Globe has agreed that a final deal between the two sides will likely look very similar to the plan offered by Times Co. earlier this year.