Sulzberger responds to concerned Globe reporters
New York Times Co. chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. said he had hoped that The Boston Globe's biggest union would approve a package of wage and benefit cuts and spare company officials from imposing a 23 percent wage cut, but the union's rejection and the paper's financial situation have left them no choice.
Sulzberger, responding to a letter from Globe reporters seeking his intervention in the contract dispute, said the Boston Newspaper Guild's rejection of $10 million in concessions put in jeopardy another $10 million in savings negotiated by other Globe unions.
The agreements with those unions remain valid only if the company gains the savings from the Guild, either by contract agreement or by imposing the pay cuts. The Times Co. has been seeking $20 million in concessions from the Globe unions or else it may need to shutter the money-losing paper.
"We are now left with no alternative other than to proceed with the wage reduction,'' Sulzberger wrote in an e-mail. "Without that, the Globe will be unable to effectuate the savings already ratified by its other unions, in which case it simply cannot survive."
Sulzberger said he had hoped the company would reach an agreement with the guild that spread the cuts among wages and benefits, as it did with other unions.
"Unfortunately," he said in the e-mail, "despite tireless efforts by Globe negotiators to do that just as they successfully did with each of the Globe's other major unions, the Guild's bargaining posture made that task impossible."
David Abel, the Globe reporter who circulated the letter in the newsroom, declined to comment.
Daniel Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a vote Monday, the Guild narrowly rejected a contract offer that included wage cuts that totaled about 10 percent, and deep reductions in health and retirement benefits. After the vote, Globe management declared an impasse in negotiations and said it would impose the 23 percent wage cut starting Sunday, the beginning of the next pay period. The Guild has launched a legal challenge, filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. A hearing is set for Tuesday.
To read a copy of Sulzberger's e-mail, please click "Full entry."
(By Robert Gavin, Globe staff)
Thank you for your letter.
My colleagues and I share your concern for the Globe and those who work there, and I'm gratified by your recognition of that despite all that surrounds us. You are correct that I had hoped this would work out differently, and that a timely solution would be found for the Globe to achieve the necessary savings without Guild employees suffering a huge wage cut.
Unfortunately, despite tireless efforts by Globe negotiators to do that just as they successfully did with each of the Globe's other major unions, the Guild's bargaining posture made that task impossible. We are now left with no alternative other than to proceed with the wage reduction. Without that, the Globe will be unable to effectuate the savings already ratified by its other unions, in which case it simply cannot survive. We cannot allow that to happen, so we, regrettably, will implement the wage reduction.
Despite my great concern for what's happening at the Globe, all dealings on this subject must be with and through the Guild which, under law, is the employees' sole and exclusive bargaining representative. To that end, negotiators for the Globe have already advised the Guild that they are ready and willing to meet and plan to do so Monday.
We all share a commitment to making the Globe stronger and more viable in the days ahead.
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.