By: Joe Strupp
With The Boston Globe’s self-imposed deadline for a new concession deal with its union’s looming today, the paper’s Newspaper Guild unit is asking for more time to negotiate, claiming an accounting mistake by management has “suddenly removed $4.5 million in possible givebacks from the table,” the Globe reports.
“The error, which leaders of the Boston Newspaper Guild said was revealed to them late Wednesday night, complicates already difficult negotiations aimed at saving the Globe, which is projected to lose some $85 million this year,” the paper reported.
The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, has set today as the deadline for reaching agreement on $20 million in concessions from the paper’s unions, including $10 million from the Guild, which represents more than 600 editorial, advertising, and business office workers.
The Times Co. has threatened to close or sell the Globe unless it gains the union concessions.
A spokesman for the Globe said the newspaper is prepared to continue negotiations until at least midnight tonight with 10 unions who are being asked to give up some $20 million in concessions to keep the paper in business.
Robert Powers, Globe vice president for communications and public affairs, told E&P “we have all day today and we will go until midnight, at least. It all depends on how they are going.”
Powers declined to say how the discussions were progressing, adding only “they are very substantive.”
“Management had originally given the Guild a menu of possible cuts that totaled about $14 million from which the Guild could choose $10 million, according to union officials,” the paper reported. “But in making those calculations, the company mistakenly included the salaries and benefits of 80 Guild employees who have left the paper since Jan. 1 through buyouts, layoffs, and resignations.
“The company recently revised the calculations to reflect the departure of these workers, reducing the total value of the menu to about $10 million from the original $14 million. That means Guild employees face even deeper cuts in salaries and benefits to achieve the demanded savings.”
“This is a huge, huge mistake by the company,” Dan Totten, the Guild president, told the paper. “They should credit us with the three weeks we spent negotiating in good faith. Let’s extend the clock.”
The Globe reported that the accounting error “adds to the likelihood that unions at the Globe will not meet today’s deadline. Progress, however, has been reported in other union negotiations, according to Globe management and union officials, and employees hope that the Times Co. will not make good on its threat to shutter New England’s largest newspaper.”