Boston Newspaper Guild to Meet with Union Members Tonight

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Members of The Boston Globe’s largest union were expected to have a spirited, emotional meeting Thursday night over a proposal that calls for deep wage and benefit cuts.

Leaders of the Boston Newspaper Guild were set to meet with union members to review the proposal hammered out during tense negotiations with the Globe’s owner, The New York Times Co.

The proposal calls for an 8.3 percent wage cut and a five-day unpaid furlough. Other cutbacks include a freeze on pension contributions for many employees and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees for about 190 Guild members. The Guild represents about 700 editorial, business and advertising employees.

Several reporters said they are angry about the depth of the proposed cuts and worried about the future of the 137-year-old newspaper.

Last month, the Times Co. threatened to shut down the Globe unless its unions agreed to cut $20 million in annual costs. The Guild was asked to cut $10 million, while the newspaper’s other unions were asked to pare the remaining $10 million.

“I think people are still deciding ? ‘Can I live with this? Do I have to live with this? Do I have a choice?'” said Globe reporter Scott Allen. “This strikes very close to home for people, their ability to pay their mortgages, to send their kids to college.”

Union leaders agreed to present the Times Co.’s final offer to its members for a vote, but do not plan to recommend for or against its ratification. No vote has been scheduled yet.

Guild President Daniel Totten did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Like many newspapers across the country, the Globe has struggled as readers have migrated to the Internet, advertising revenues have declined drastically and circulation has fallen. The Globe had $50 million in operating losses in 2008 and had been projected to lose $85 million this year.

Several employees said they are concerned that even if they approve the proposal for wage and benefit cuts, the newspaper will still face large layoffs.

“This is one step. We know that there is more coming after this,” said reporter Shelley Murphy.

“I think the concern is how to figure out a way ? and quickly ? on how to turn the paper around.”

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