Newspaper Guild President 'Not Surprised' at Boston Unit Recall Petition

By: Joe Strupp Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer said he is not surprised that some infighting at The Boston Globe guild unit has sparked an apparent petition drive to oust unit president Dan Totten. He said the past few months of contract battles there were among the toughest ever.

"The unit's been through hell so there probably are seeds of division," Lunzer said. "This is too tough a time for infighting."

But, noting he has not heard much about the reported petition, Lunzer declined to judge the work of the local leadership or Totten. He said that when local units go through a drawn-out contract battle, as the Boston group has, some backlash can happen.

"People are looking for blame with some of the tough choices that have been made," Lunzer said. "If there are legitimate questions of leadership, there is a democratic structure in place. A lot of units have gone through pressures and leadership fights."

Lunzer's comments followed a report today in The Boston Globe that a petition drive had been started to oust Totten. It did not say how many signatures, if any, had been collected. But it noted just 20% of the guild local is needed to sign the petition to force a meeting about a possible recall election. Totten did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Boston unit in July approved a new contract that included $10 million in concessions, including a 5.8% pay cut. That followed the rejection of an earlier contract in June that would have included an 8.4% salary reduction.

The contract talks had sparked earlier infighting over the issue of lifetime job guarantees for some employees, which were given up with the contract agreement. After the first contract offer was rejected, Lunzer said "mistake were made" in the negotiations, but on both the union and management sides.

"When things get tough, people get tense and start looking for answers, and sometimes it gets personal," Lunzer said of the backlash. "The goal is to keep it constructive and keep it professional."


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