No Boston Globe Deal But More Talks Expected

By Mark Pratt
|  Monday, May 4, 2009  |  Updated 10:44 AM CDT
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No Boston Globe Deal But More Talks Expected

Is this the end for the Globe?

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The Boston Globe's largest workers union and the newspaper finished all-night contract-concession talks without a deal Monday, but plan to be back at the bargaining table soon.

The union and management stopped negotiating at about 8 a.m. and "should resume in the next day or so," said Cosmo Macero, a spokesman for the Newspaper Guild. He did not have additional information.

Two unions representing mailers and drivers reached tentative agreements Monday morning.

A Globe spokesman did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press on Monday morning.

The Globe's owner, The New York Times Co., had threatened to close the newspaper unless the unions agreed to $20 million in cuts by midnight Sunday. The company showed the union a draft of a 60-day shutdown notice, required under federal law, and said it would file it if concession demands were not met. The Guild called that a "bullying" tactic.

Negotiations between management and several unions dragged on through the night.

Mary White, president of Teamsters Local 1, which represents 245 mailers, says the union reached a tentative agreement at around 4:30 a.m. It includes $5 million in concessions and changes in lifetime job guarantees. In a report on the Globe's Web site, White says the concessions were "necessary in closing the deal."

A union representing 210 delivery drivers also reached a tentative agreement Monday. Official Ralph Giallanella says the union agreed to about $2.5 million in concessions.

The Newspaper Guild, representing about 700 editorial, advertising and business employees, said it had proposed more than the $10 million in cuts sought by the Times Co. In a statement released two hours before the midnight deadline, the Guild said its proposed cuts called for "tremendous sacrifices, across virtually all categories of compensation and benefits."

Neither side would reveal what was bogging down the negotiations, but a key sticking point could be lifetime job guarantees.

The Times Co. has sought to eliminate the lifetime job guarantees, which give strong protection from layoffs. Staffers can still be let go for cause.

Guild President Daniel Totten has called elimination of the guarantees a "nonstarter."

Approximately 470 employees across six unions have the lifetime guarantees, including about 190 Guild members. Some veteran Globe workers believe eliminating the guarantees would allow the Times Co. to dismiss older, higher-paid employees.

The Guild did not release specifics on what kinds of wage or benefit cuts it had proposed to the Times Co. The union said further details would be made public once all Guild members have had a chance to review them.

The Times Co. would not comment on the Guild's proposal.

Like many other newspapers, the Globe has been struggling amid declining advertising revenues and dropping circulation as readers migrate to the Internet. The Globe had $50 million in operating losses in 2008 and is projected to lose $85 million this year.

The Times Co., which bought the Globe in 1993, has said that of all its newspaper properties, the Globe has been the most dramatically affected by the recession and the advertising downturn.

New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said at the company's annual shareholders meeting last month that more needed to be done to align the Globe's costs and revenues.

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