NYT Co.: ‘Globe’ Shutter Threat Over

Some newsroom rank and file at The Boston Globe who spoke with E&P this morning said the guild contract offer that was narrowly voted down Monday was just not good enough, especially given that they felt management was not bearing an equal burden. Later, the parent New York Times Co. said it could no longer foresee shutting down the paper but instead would work on a “turnaround.”

“The newsroom issue was the size of the wage cut and that many believed it was a disproportionate cut to what management was willing to make,” said Keith O’Brien, a two-year reporter who declined to reveal his vote because he is covering the story. “The lifetime guarantee wasn’t a hot issue.”

The offer included an 8.3 percent salary cut, a one-week unpaid furlough, and elimination of lifetime job guarantees for some 400 employees.

O’Brien added that the close vote was no surprise, stating, “no one truly knew what was going to happen yesterday night up until the vote was announced.”

Another reporter, who requested anonymity, tried to put a positive spin on the future, stating “we are all intending to keep working and putting out the best product and news content. We are trying to be positive.”

But others, such as 21-year veteran reporter Brian Mooney, a staunch no vote, said the offer was unacceptable: “They have a 5 percent salary cut for management and they cut the crap out of us. Fairness was a major issue.” He added that the company will likely run into National Labor Relations Board challenges with the 23 percent wage cut it is implementing this week.

“I am looking at pensions and that is a factor for me,” said Mooney. “It was a vote on principle. It is bad today, no one is happy. No high-fiving.”

Beth Daley, an environmental reporter and guild officer, said “I think people had a tough decision, there was no good choice. People were really angry at the way management behaved. They put forth an original proposal, then three weeks later they said they had their math wrong and wanted a bigger hit.”

Still, she said she believed the two sides are not far apart and a deal can be reached. A general guild membership meeting is set for tonight to discuss options.

The Boston Globe published the following update about 2:20 this afternoon.

With the 23 percent pay cut imposed on members of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper’s owner, the New York Times Co., said it has achieved the savings it needs from the paper’s unions and does not foresee shutting it down.

“Because we have achieved the $20 million in savings we needed, we do not foresee closure at this time and are focused on executing the Globe’s turnaround plan,” Times Co. spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said in a statement.

The 23 percent pay cut, imposed after the guild rejected a contract
offer of pay and benefit cuts, will achieve about $10 million in savings,
according to the company. Six other unions have ratified contracts that
total slightly more than $10 million in wage and benefit cuts.