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

An employee-ownership option for the Globe

Could members of the Boston Newspaper Guild wind up as co-owners of the Boston Globe? A Media Nation reader sends along this link from the Financial Times. The story, posted last Thursday, doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of pick-up.

But according to an anonymous source, one of the potential buyers, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, is reportedly willing to work out some sort of deal with the Guild that would result in employees owning a share of the paper. As the Financial Times notes:

Working with the Boston Newspaper Guild could help remove one of the biggest obstacles to a deal — negotiating a reduction in operating cost that could prove prohibitively expensive to return ownership to local control.

Such an arrangement would be similar to the one recently struck in Maine involving the Portland Press Herald and several smaller papers. Employees now own 15 percent of the company.

Boston Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten released an optimistic statement late this afternoon: “The Boston Newspaper Guild continues to have productive discussions with the New York Times Company and Globe management. We feel we are close to reaching an agreement that we can bring to Guild members for a vote.”

A vote has been scheduled for July 20.

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  1. lkcape

    Owning 15% of something that is going to be worth very little is owing 15% of very little. What the Guild would give up is the right to complain.They would still lack effective control.What the Guild would gain is the right to try to convince another 35.1% of the other owners to go along with any proposals they might make.The risks of ownership can be clearly seen in the concessions that the UAW had to give JUST to get GM and Chrysler into their packaged bankruptcies. And it likely isn't over for them yet.The prospects for the future of the printed newspaper is not too rosy as it is.Why buy into a losing game?

  2. Mike Saunders

    lkcape said: "Why buy into a losing game?"That's an extremely valid question.but… When the current unprofitable news-delivery model is scrapped, the Guild will be the only union involved with content creation. It should be able to weather the inevitable deep cuts…and be a part of any turnaround.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: You are proceeding on the assumption that the drop in circulation and revenue will continue at the same pace until it reaches zero. I suppose anything is possible. But I think there's got to be a stabilization point. It's not going to be pretty, but surely the Globe and many other newspapers can cut staff to until they reach break-even.

  4. lkcape

    Agreed that there will be a stabilization point. But it is a question as to whether the stabilization point is sufficient to sustain operations and to provide a product that can create a growth trajectory going forward.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    DK – based upon observation of their crackerjack negotiating skill, demonstrating their shrewd understanding of the world of commerce and employment in a difficult economy, I would suggest that giving them ownership is the fastest way to kill the paper altogether.(Not that such a result would be all bad…)

  6. Treg

    Oh, Peter, you *would* say that. But hold on – are you sure the negotiation was so bad? Who blinked? Seems like only a week or so ago, management was saying, that's it, no more Mr. Nice Guy, 23% cuts as of now. Who knows what the final agreement will say. But maybe they knew what they were doing?

  7. InsiderNegot

    Peter is more right than he is wrong. The Globe will get what they wanted all along with a deal the Guild could have made weeks ago. In the meantime the Guild membership will suffer a 23% paycut until it is ratified. Even if they get some of it back after July 20, 5 or 6 weeks with 23% less pay from people who live weeks to week is painful.

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