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As Deadline Looms, Negotiators Work To Salvage Boston Globe

As a deadline for a threatened shutdown of the Boston Globe approaches, management and union leaders are expressing some optimism but releasing no details about negotiations.

Statements Thursday from unions and from the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, said only that negotiations are continuing. Employees said proposals that have been floated called for pay cuts ranging from 5 percent to nearly 23 percent.

"I don't think anybody thinks this is a bluff or a fake, but people don't know what's going to happen," said Scott Allen, a Globe reporter of 16 years. "There's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of anxiety."

Publisher Steve Ainsley sent an e-mail message to all employees (PDF) Thursday, a day before the Times-imposed deadline for the newspaper's unions to agree to $20 million in concessions.
Boston Globe Publisher Steve Ainsley's April 30 all-staff e-mail, obtained by WBUR (PDF)
“All of us are anxious about the current negotiations and the difficult economic conditions that make them necessary,” Ainsley wrote. “While critical to the Globe’s sustainability, the issues being discussed will require sacrifice from all our union employees and I fully appreciate the hardship that entails.”

The publisher also thanked all staff members for a spirit of commitment. “This spirit persuades me we’ll emerge from this difficult period in better shape than we entered it.”

The 137-year-old Globe lost $50 million last year, and the newspaper is projected to lose $85 million this year.

Staff at the Globe described a tense atmosphere Thursday, as the deadline approached. "The idea of your enterprise coming to abrupt halt within hours is very anxious," said reporter Sean Murphy. "On the other hand, I've been working. I've got a good story and I hope to be publishing it in Sunday's paper."

The New York Times also owns the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which shares some Globe content. A spokesman for the Worcester paper's union said at this point there are no contingency plans for a Globe shutdown.

Meanwhile, the principal owners of the Boston Red Sox moved Thursday to quell speculation they might be interested in buying the Globe. The team released a statement saying none of its principal owners have any plans to acquire the newspaper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on April 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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