Globe newsroom petition seeks smaller pay cut
A group of Boston Globe newsroom employees is circulating a petition that urges Globe management to limit pay cuts to 5 percent, arguing that a contract proposal that calls for about twice that amount is "in extraordinary danger" of rejection by their union.
The union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, is scheduled to vote June 8 on a final offer from the newspaper's owner, The New York Times Co. It specifies an 8.4 percent pay cut, plus five days of unpaid furlough, which add up to wage cuts of about 10 percent. In addition, healthcare and retirement benefits would be cut.
The petition, sponsored by six reporters and an editor and addressed to the Globe's publisher, P. Steven Ainsley, acknowledges that "significant cuts to our salary and benefits are necessary" to ensure the Globe's survival.
But it says reducing the pay cut to 5 percent - the same imposed on nonunion managers and accepted by New York Times employees - is necessary to win approval of the proposed contract and "avert the crisis sure to follow a rejection of the company's proposal."
Without a smaller pay cut, said Beth Daley, a reporter, union delegate, and one of the petition sponsors, the proposed contract is in "extraordinary danger."
"Management can adjust the offer. Let's all give up the same,'' she said. "There are too many unknowns on the other side of this if the offer is rejected."
Globe spokesman Robert Powers declined to comment. Union leaders could not immediately be reached for comment.
In addition to a 5 percent pay cut from April through the end of the year, nonunion managers will also be giving up their 2009 bonuses. Taken together, the cuts amount to at least a 16 percent decrease in compensation, according to a memo from Ainsley.
The Guild will be the last of the Globe's four major unions to vote on a total of $20 million in concessions the Times Co. is seeking from union workers. The company last month threatened to shutter the paper, which is projected to lose $85 million this year, unless significant cost reductions are made.
Last night, members of unions representing mailers and press operators approved contracts that would take about $7.2 million out of their wages and benefits.
The union representing delivery truck drivers votes June 7 on $2.5 million in concessions.
The Guild, the paper's largest union, representing more than 600 editorial, advertising and business office workers, votes the next day on $10 million in concessions.
It's possible that the Times Co. would impose at 23 percent across the board pay cut to achieve the $10 million in savings, should Guild employees reject the contract proposal.
The petition sponsors argue that adjusting the pay cut would be worth it for the company, avoiding turmoil that would follow a rejection and the legal battle likely to ensue if Globe management imposes a pay cut. Management would also gain other major concessions, including the elimination of lifetime job guarantees for about 190 veteran members.
Scott Allen, a reporter and one of petition sponsors, said the idea is to send management a clear message that if the contract is rejected, it's because of the 10 percent pay cut.
(By Robert Gavin, Globe staff)