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Globe Negotiations Halted; Largest Union Walks Out

This article is more than 10 years old.
The Globe’s owner, The New York Times Co., said it had given the Globe’s biggest union a copy of a notice it was prepared to file Monday if it was unable to agree on the concessions by midnight Sunday. The 60-day shutdown notice is required under federal law. Above, the facade of the Boston Globe building in Boston. (AP Photo)
The Globe’s owner, The New York Times Co., said it had given the Globe’s biggest union a copy of a notice it was prepared to file Monday if it was unable to agree on the concessions by midnight Sunday. The 60-day shutdown notice is required under federal law. Above, the facade of the Boston Globe building in Boston. (AP Photo)

Talks between the Boston Globe's unions and its owner came to a halt Monday morning, about eight hours after a midnight deadline for the sides to agree on $20 million in concessions to keep the newspaper open.

Shortly before the halt was announced, the Globe's largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, had walked out after talks broke down. The major sticking point appeared to be lifetime job guarantees.

Cosmo Macero, a spokesman for the Newspaper Guild, said negotiations between the union and management "should resume in the next day or so."

Hours earlier, around 4:30 a.m., the Globe's mailers union, Teamsters Local 1, agreed to about $5 million in concessions — including an end to lifetime job security for 145 workers.

"It was a sticking point for many reasons for the Globe, but that was more important than the $5 million," said Teamsters Local 1 President Mary White.

A union representing 210 delivery drivers also reached agreement Monday. Official Ralph Giallanella said the union agreed to about $2.5 million in concessions. Union officials would not say if they had also agreed to end lifetime job security.

The Globe's owner, The New York Times Co., said it had given the Boston Newspaper Guild a copy of a notice it was prepared to file Monday if it was unable to agree on the concessions by midnight Sunday. The 60-day shutdown notice is required under federal law.

The Guild called the move a "bullying" tactic by the Times Co., which last month threatened to close the Globe unless its unions agreed to $20 million in cuts, half from the Newspaper Guild.

The Guild said it had proposed more than the $10 million in cuts sought by the Times Co. In a statement released two hours before the midnight deadline, the Guild said its proposed cuts called for "tremendous sacrifices, across virtually all categories of compensation and benefits."

"We are continuing to negotiate," Times Co. spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said early Monday.

A key issue appeared to be lifetime job guarantees for some Globe employees.  The union that represents mailers at the newspaper said it had reached a tentative agreement that included giving up those guarantees. It also included salary and benefit reductions.

The Times Co. has sought to eliminate the lifetime job guarantees, which give strong protection from layoffs. Staffers can still be let go for cause.

Guild President Daniel Totten has called elimination of the guarantees a "nonstarter."

Approximately 470 employees across six unions have the lifetime guarantees, including about 190 Guild members. Some veteran Globe workers believe eliminating the guarantees would allow the Times Co. to dismiss older, higher-paid employees.

The Guild did not release specifics on what kinds of wage or benefit cuts it had proposed to the Times Co. The union said further details would be made public once all Guild members have had a chance to review them.

It was unclear whether the Globe's other unions had made proposals for the remaining $10 million in cuts.

The Times Co. would not comment on the Guild's proposal.

Like many other newspapers, the Globe has been struggling amid declining advertising revenues and dropping circulation as readers migrate to the Internet. The Globe had $50 million in operating losses in 2008 and is projected to lose $85 million this year.

The Times Co., which bought the Globe in 1993, has said that of all its newspaper properties, the Globe has been the most dramatically affected by the recession and the advertising downturn.

New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said at the company's annual shareholders meeting last month that more needed to be done to align the Globe's costs and revenues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on May 4, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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