Guild reaches tentative agreement with Herald

The Newspaper Guild and Boston Herald management have reached agreement on a new two-year contract, according to a copy of an email sent to Media Nation. Members of the Guild will vote next Thursday, with union leadership recommending approval.

The vote comes after some turmoil earlier this year, when the Herald’s editorial and commercial employees voted against accepting management’s offer.

I’ve attached a PDF of the agreement. The new language comes at the end. What’s striking — though not surprising — is the flat acknowledgment by John Flinn, vice president of human resources, that all is not well at the Herald. In a letter to Brian Whelan, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston, Flinn writes that both sides “have recognized the deteriorating economic trends in the newspaper industry and at the Boston Herald, particularly advertising revenue and circulation, which continue to decline and disappoint.”

Of course, it’s in management’s best interest to paint as dark a picture as possible. Still, it’s undeniably true that the newspaper business continues to struggle. And it must be particularly challenging to be one of the last number-two dailies in the country.

What follows is Herald union official Bill Brotherton’s message to his members.

A reminder that the Guild and the Herald have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract. Voting will take place Thursday, Oct. 1, noon to 7 p.m. in the Record Room on the fifth floor. If you will not be here on Thursday, see Bill Brotherton or Jim Lazar for an absentee ballot.

The Guild Negotiating Team (Brian Whelan, Jim Lazar, Laurel Sweet and Bill Brotherton) is recommending a YES vote.

The committee got the Herald to scale back its attack on the severance (All Guild members currently employed by the Herald keep all severance earned to date, plus accumulates an additional week of severance each year up to a maximum of 62 weeks; future hires will get one week of severance per year up to a max of 26 weeks) and to delay the start date of reopening the contract in case of economic disaster to Feb. 1 (the company has said on the record it has no plans to reopen the contract unless the financial picture turns dire).

Attached is a copy of the tentative agreement. Current language is on top; new language is on the bottom. The language deletions are either elsewhere in the contract or are obsolete; both sides agreed to clean up the contract by eliminating old language.

Questions and comments/suggestions are encouraged.

Thank you for your support and patience.

Bill