Newspaper Guild Rejects Boston Globe Pay Proposal

The Boston Globe said it will impose deep wage cuts in the wake of its largest union rejecting $10 million in annual pay and benefit cuts that the newspaper's parent, The New York Times Co., said were needed to keep the paper from shutting down. Video by AP
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A key Boston Globe union narrowly voted down a severe pay package yesterday that was designed to save the newspaper, and management immediately responded by vowing to impose cutbacks nearly three times as large.

Two months after the paper's owner, the New York Times Co., threatened to close the money-losing Globe, its Newspaper Guild -- by a vote of 277 to 265 -- rejected a proposal to cut wages by more than 8 percent, impose a week-long furlough and make other benefit reductions. The Times Co. said afterward that it would slash the employees' pay beginning next week by 23 percent, as it had warned before the vote.

Anger at the New York owners has been building among the 660 newsroom, advertising and circulation employees represented by the guild, even as many warned that a "no" vote could jeopardize their jobs and perhaps the paper's future.

In a statement last night, Guild President Daniel Totten said the union's message was "that the New York Times Co. must do better than the offer that was presented. Globe workers and the New England community understand that the quality of the Boston Globe -- an institution so vital to the life and culture of the region -- depends on the fair treatment of the men and women who work so hard to produce it." He said the guild is ready to resume negotiations.

Totten led the charge against the proposal, last week accusing the Times Co. in a letter of "threats, bullying and negotiating at gunpoint."

City Hall bureau chief Donovan Slack told the Associated Press that she voted for what she called "a really unfair deal" because "I don't have room to gamble with a quarter of my pay, and I have no doubt that the New York Times Company will institute that pay cut immediately."

The Times Co. has not withdrawn the shutdown threat, but executives have not spoken about it recently. The narrow guild majority that shot down the proposal essentially bet that the company was bluffing and that a better deal could be hammered out. Six Globe unions have ratified wage and benefit cuts totaling more than $10 million. The Globe is on track to lose $85 million this year; the Times Co. lost $74.5 million in the first quarter.

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