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

For the Globe, an amicable divorce?

In my latest for the Guardian, I attempt to make sense out of the past week’s developments regarding the Boston Globe — and to urge an amicable divorce between the Globe and the New York Times Co.

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  1. Treg

    Dan, of course, I'm going to quibble.I think the no vote was a lot more than just an expression of rage (or outrage). Perhaps the Guild has more leverage than you think. Is the Globe more valuable with or without the Guild on board? And is it more valuable with or without subscribers? How does it look to subscribers, many of whom are already wondering from time to time why they continue to pay, if the Times Co. forces big cuts in wages and benefits on Guild members while taking nothing from management?

  2. lkcape

    I would guess that an amicable divorce already is of paramount interest to both parties. The terms, however, likely involve third parties that may not be willing to accept the deal.The holders of The Times Co. debt are the ones that will need to be satisfied, and until management and labor can achieve a deal that addresses the money men's issues, the road for The Globe and its unions may well be very rocky.They have little control over their destiny.

  3. acf

    As with most businesses where their employees are unique talents, fundamental to the success of their mission, the Globe needs the union membership to continue to produce the product that readers are willing to buy. OTOH, this is not a sellers market for newspaper writers. Where are they going to go, if not with the Globe? They need each other. The guaranteed contracts have to go, and the 23% wage cut is unreasonable.

  4. Amused

    I'm still not understanding the 23 percent pay cut.The union voted on a proposal from the company that called for much less than a 23 percent pay cut. Now the company is imposing the larger cut.I thought that to impose a terms of wages, hours and working conditions in the collective bargaining context, the company had to declare an impasse and then implement its best and final offer. How can it be a best and last offer if it's worse than one they sent to a vote by the rank and file?Did Bush repeal the National Labor Relations Act and forget to tell everyone? Doesn't regressive bargaining (vote for this or we'll force you to take even less) strike at the very heart of collective bargaining and connstitute an unfair labor practice? If he didn't, wouldn't a subsequent buyer, or Times Co. itself, be on the hook for millions in back pay if implementing an offer that wasn't its best and last is found to be an unfair labor practice?Some pretty sloppy reporting on this end of the story, but sloppy reporting has characterized this story from the outset, starting when operating loss figures and suggested values for the newspaper were adopted as gospel without verification to the acceptance of "do or die" dates without verifying whether a required WARN Act notice was given, to the to the overuse of the phrase "lifetime jobs" without describing how, in reality, job protection lasts only from one collective bargaining agreement to the next. Even journalists who should know better are taking concepts and buzzwords floated by an assortment of people for an assortment of reasons and giving them the stamp of credibility. This story has been reported in Foxspeak or Sunbeamspeak; the transformation of multi-layered concepts to easily, but incorrectly, grasped buzz phrases. Generally that's something we see in television, but the newspaper reporting has been just as awful.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Amused: The Guild agreed to talks even though it is current under contract. The deal that the Guild rejected and the 23 percent pay cut both add up to $10 million. The deal called for massive cuts in benefits.In the absence of an agreement, management has taken the position that the one thing it can cut unilaterally is pay.As for the lifetime job guarantees, they were on the table, yet management was unable to get approval of an agreement to do away with them. What would make it any easier the next time? In theory, as you say, everything is up for grabs when a contract expires. But that's not the reality.

  6. meamoeba

    dan, actually, the wages were on the table under the cba, not necessarily the guild's altruism in being a good partner. the contract says the company can open the salary negotiations in 2009 if there are declining business revenues, hence the declaration of impasse, albeit faulty and likely fraudulent. and the original granting of lifetime job guarantees — which were bargained away with many concessions by the guild and other unions in case people tend to forget that — were open for revisitation if, again, the revenues tank. they actually are and can be negotiated as two separate issues and need not be combined, despite the nyt attemt to tie them together.

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