Globe union: Limit talks to cost-saving issues
The Boston Globe's biggest union said it will negotiate cost savings such as wage and benefit cuts with the New York Times Co. and Globe management, but rejected talks on issues it said are not directly related to costs, which could include senority and lifetime job guarantees.
In a statement released as bargaining got underway today, the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents about 700 editorial, advertising and business office employees, also called for negotiations to be held in public.
"The long-term stability and financial health of the Boston Globe is a matter of significant public interest," the Guild said in statement. "Therefore, negotiations between The Guild and the New York Times Co. and Globe management shall be conducted in an open, public session."
Times Co. spokeswoman Catherine Mathis declined comment. Globe spokesman Robert Powers said, "Our Employee Relations team will respond to proposals brought to them as part of our current negotiations with the Boston Newspaper Guild."
The union statement is the latest salvo in the negotiations between the Globe's 13 unions and the Times Co., which has threatened to shutter the money-losing newspaper if it cannot quickly get $20 million in concessions from the unions. The company has asked for half those savings, or $10 million, from the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents about half the 1,400 union workers at the Globe.
The Times Co. has asked for deep cuts in pay and benefits, including millions of dollars in reductions in company contributions to healthcare and retirement plans, according to union officials. The Times Co. has also asked for the elimination of lifetime job guarantees enjoyed by about 170 Guild members and the end of seniority rules to govern layoffs. Under seniority, workers with less experience get laid off first.
Guild officials have suggested the focus on those contract provisions is aimed at getting the struggling paper ready for sale.
"Subject matter having no cost saving attribution will not be subject to negotiation," the union said in its statement. "If the purpose of the Globe’s current initiative is to 'streamline' the enterprise for sale, the Guild proposes to deal directly with potential buyer(s) as identified by the Times Co. and Globe management."
The Guild also called on the company to give the union a direct say in policy and business decisions at the Globe.
"By agreeing to labor cost reductions, the Guild, on behalf of its members, is investing in and partnering with the New York Times Co. and Boston Globe," the statement said. "Therefore, the Guild shall appoint representatives having voice and meaningful participatory role in policy and operational decision-making within all Globe operations covered by The Guild’s bargaining agreement."
(By Robert Gavin, Globe staff)