By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Union don’ts at the Globe

One line I’ve been recycling this week is that the showdown between New York Times Co. management and the Boston Globe unions would not come down to midnight on the 30th day — that union officials, based on their own comments, seemed to understand that both the Times Co. and the overall situation was serious, and would quickly agree to $20 million in cuts as the price of keeping the paper alive.

Well, now I’m not so sure. Coverage during the week has suggested increased intransigence on the part of the unions, and especially of Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten. And today, Christine McConville begins her report in the Boston Herald thusly:

Boston Globe unions are showing signs of digging in against management as frustrated labor leaders say their members have already given up enough in the effort to keep the struggling broadsheet afloat.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Jay Fitzgerald learns that it might be possible for the Times Co. to place the Globe in bankruptcy even without selling it. That could actually be good news, as it gives Times executives a way of restructuring the paper without having to find a buyer in a brutal economic environment and without having to shut it down. (And has the Herald been indispensable this week or what?)

It is despicable that the Times Co.’s cash-fattened managers have said virtually nothing this week. They owe an explanation to the community at least as much as they do to their employees.

Still, there’s no question that the systemic disaster that’s bringing the newspaper business down has more to do with the Globe’s problems than any specific mistakes by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Steven Ainsley and crew. So it’s interesting to see, as Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix reports, that there may be a mounting insurrection among some reporters against the union leadership, who could conceivably destroy the paper rather than give up perks like lifetime contracts.

So did I leave anything out? Oh, yes. Almost forgot. Howie Carr is an idiot.

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10 Comments

  1. NewsHound

    Of course Newshound can’t dispute a claim by a top bankruptcy attorney, but it seems that NYT Company could be sued by creditors. The claim may be true, but it may not be quite that simple. But, it could be. I think the NYT Co. is up the creek with this one.

  2. mike_b1

    Jay Fitzgerald must have read my earlier comment. Too bad he doesn’t identify the “some.” And that it only took a week to get to an answer out to the public. Once again, it’s a lot easier to speculate than to bother asking an expert.

  3. Nial Liszt

    Are there inaccuracies in the linked Carr column that have incited your latest bout of HDS (Howie Derangement Syndrome)?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Perhaps a few omissions, Nial? What do you think?

  5. Daniels Schoolboy

    Yeah, Howie forgot Mike Barnicle’s firing from the Globe for making crap up … and then getting snapped up by the Herald. And the judge’s nasty little libel victory … against the Herald. Wanna reach back to Peter Lucas’ 1983 “White will run” exclusive … just before hizzoner announced he wouldn’t run? That’s 20 seconds of thinking about it; shall I check back in with a list after 24 hours?Yeah, so nothing Howie wrote was wrong, necessarily. But every newspaper’s a glass house, and he oughtta quick hucking rocks.

  6. Daniels Schoolboy

    “quit” not “quick.” Clearly, it needed 22 seconds of thought. Apologies.

  7. acf

    The unions want to call the Times’ bluff? That’s a good strategy. Instead of looking at a cut, they can be counting how long their unemployment will last. Having worked for a company that went out of business, I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s not pleasant. Aside from getting ripped away from the friends and associates you worked with for years, your earnings are gone, your benefits …poof, you’re lost, and in the Globe’s environment, another job in the same industry is not easy to come by. They had better think long and hard about this strategy. This is not the era of in your face confrontations with management for more.

  8. Nial Liszt

    I’m sure Carr was all on board with hiring Barnicle. And, 1983!!If commentators had to be without sin to huck the first rock, columnists would exist only in Sister Brigit’s Gazette. Is there another columnist in the city who still actually sells papers?

  9. NewsHound

    acf – you’ve been through it so you know first hand. However, I suspect the unions are holding strong so as to not enable their newspaper to be sold to some Mickey Mouse outfit that may take it through bankruptcy and bring it to a new low. In spite of Howie Carr, they are damn proud of their product and choose to retain their dignity. As Churchill said, “Never give in . . . except in honour” and oh, yes, “good sense.”

  10. bob gardner

    Actually, someone should do some research on how Whitey Bulger was portrayed in the Boston media back in the early eighties. Carr’s column today seems like a strange place to link to with the phrase “Howie Carr is an idiot” Maybe a better place to link would be with Carr’s coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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