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

Globe publisher distributes Q&A

Boston Globe publisher Steve Ainsley has distributed a Q&A inside the Globe in advance of the Boston Newspaper Guild’s upcoming July 20 vote on the latest concessions negotiated between the Guild and the New York Times Co. Media Nation obtained a copy earlier today.

Dear Colleagues:

We thought it might be helpful to provide information about the components of the tentative agreement with the Guild, which is scheduled for a ratification vote on July 20th.

We have prepared a short list of Q&A’s for those elements that are different from the contract proposal of June 8th.

We also provide a link to the Q&A’s (previously distributed) for those components that have not changed from the June 8th contract proposal.

You’ll also find a link to the information about the wage mitigation, which is posted on Compass.

[Compass is an internal system for Globe employees. I do not have the links. — DK]

If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

Thank you.

— Steve

Guild Employees Q&A

New Elements of the Contract under Tentative Agreement

Q. What are the new elements of this proposal?

A. The major elements that have changed are outlined below:

  • A lower wage reduction: 5.94% vs. 8.388%
  • The elimination of retiree health insurance, going forward (post
  • 65 supplemental plan only)
  • 2 Vacation days and the Birthday holiday will be taken without pay
  • A further reduction of ‘quid pro quo’ for health insurance fund

Note: The last three items above, along with the partial wage mitigation, amount to exactly the savings needed to lower the wage reduction and maintain the $10 million in total savings necessary.

Q. What elements in this proposed agreement have remained the same?

A. Major elements that have remained the same include:

  • 2% wage reduction for Tier 2 positions
  • Five furlough days per year
  • Elimination of overtime unless employee works 40 hours in a week
  • Elimination of banked vacation accrual
  • Freeze pensions at current levels, and eliminate company’s
  • contributions
  • Elimination of company’s contributions to 401(k) accounts
  • Reduction of ‘quid pro quo’ payments for health insurance fund as
  • provided in the June 8 proposal
  • Elimination of tuition reimbursement, eye care, life insurance,
  • retiree death benefit
  • Modification of the lifetime job guarantee
  • 1% profit share program
  • Matching wage increase, up to 5%, if management’s 2009 wage cut is restored.

Q. What is the length of this contract?

A. Through the end of 2010.

Q. Date of ratification vote?

A. Monday, July 20, from 8am to 8pm at the Globe.

Q. Why not vote earlier?

A. The Guild’s bylaws require 30 days notice.

Q. What happens to post-65 retirement health benefits?

A. Going forward, all Guild members will not be eligible for retiree heath benefits through the company after age 65. What this means is that at age 65 you become eligible for Medicare and you would need to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan on your own rather than it being provided by the company. There are many choices available on the market including plans from Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts. (This is consistent with the change in benefits for managers and exempts instituted in March, 2009.)

Q. How will the unpaid vacation days and birthday holiday be administered?

A. Two vacation days per year will be unpaid. Employees may choose which of their vacation days will be unpaid, but need to schedule them at the beginning of the year. For 2010 they need to be scheduled with your manager by January 30.

For 2009, only 1 vacation day will be unpaid. It would need to be scheduled with your manager by August 15.

Employees are required to take their birthday holiday within the period that’s 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after their birthday. For 2009, only employees with birthdays after the ratification date will not be paid for their birthday holiday. They should schedule the day within the period outlined above.

Scheduling for all vacation and birthday holidays needs to be approved by your manager. In 2010 all unpaid days including furlough days will need to be scheduled by January 30.

Q. When would the pension freeze take effect? I’m close to earning another year of service.

A. The pension freeze will be effective on August 8, if the contract is ratified on July 20th. So, every full-time employee will have earned 1,000 hours this year and therefore another full year of accrual service.

You should have received a notice informing you that the pension plan would be frozen as of August 8th. This is contingent on ratification. There is a requirement under federal law to give employees 45 days advance notice that benefit accruals will stop (a 204(h) notice), which is why the notice was sent out early with knowledge and prior agreement with the Guild.

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1 Comment

  1. Treg

    Funny, this Q&A doesn't include a side-by-side comparison showing what's happening with management pay and benefits. That would have been, like, my first Q in search of an A.

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