And here is the NewsGuild’s response to Boston Globe management. I have redacted the names.
You may have seen the company’s email regarding the status of our contraction negotiations.
Here’s what’s really been happening:
The Guild asked the company to start negotiations in Sept. 2018. Company officials did not make themselves available until December 6.
On that day the company, represented by Trish Dunn of Jones Day, presented us with a proposal that would, among many, many problematic things:
- Give the company the ability to outsource our jobs.
- Eliminate overtime for most members.
- Strip us of seniority in layoffs.
- Remove wage steps that guarantee annual pay increases for employees who otherwise would receive no raises unless their managers agreed to them.
- Take away our ability to defend ourselves against abuses.
- Take away our ability to fight back if the company denies an employee’s claim of harassment against a supervisor.
- Remove the clause in our current contract that would require any future owner from honoring the bargaining agreement.
- Weaken, if not cut entirely, language in our contract that calls on the Globe to recruit and promote women and minorities.
- Slash our severance.
What would we get in return? Two percent annual wage increases for two years and a 401k match increase of 3 percent that came with a huge draw-back.
The company proposed language that would allow it to reduce and even eliminate the match without having to negotiate with the Guild, which it must do under our current contract.
Yes, the company has proposed changes to healthcare that would reduce costs for some members. But according to the Guild’s calculations, the changes would significantly increase healthcare costs for many of our other members, a fact we have reminded the company of repeatedly at the table.
The company wanted us to agree to this lopsided deal within two months. Then, when their deadline passed, the Globe withdrew its previous proposal and replaced it with one that would still cut our rights under the current contract but without any increases to our wages or 401k match.
As for the ten-week family leave we now have, the company seems to have forgotten that it was Guild members who proposed this to management in 2017 and had to prod the company for 18 months before it would join the ranks of other news organizations and provide a decent family leave package. This finally happened at the negotiation table after the Guild agreed to give up some of its sick days.
Since December, the Guild has continued to meet and schedule new dates for negotiations at a steady pace. The Guild has made proposals and movement, while the company has barely budged off of any of the major concessions it has demanded. These actions are in large part why the Guild has been compelled to file a bad faith bargaining charge against the Globe for violating the National Labor Relations Act.
In its email, the company accused us of failing to schedule enough meetings and abruptly canceling on Tuesday.
This requires some context. The company was unable to meet for a three-week stretch in July because one person on its seven-member team was on vacation. And at the most recent negotiating meeting, the company did not make a single proposal, saying it had nothing for us, even though the company owed us responses on several proposals.
The Guild did cancel one bargaining session, the first such cancellation during eight months of negotiations, because the Guild’s president, Scott Steeves, a critical member of our bargaining team, had to fill in for his manager, who has recently left the company and has yet to be replaced.
The Guild’s negotiating team did meet on its own this week to draft more proposals and responses that will be provided to the company at the next bargaining session in September. The company knows this.
We’ve asked the company repeatedly to explain how provisions in the current contract are an impediment — financial or otherwise — to the Globe’s sustainability and growth. We are repeatedly met with the same vague response: “We want to be more flexible and nimble.”
Well, that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for employees who have tirelessly worked for this company even as it made monumental mistakes that threatened the health and future of the Globe. We were there for the company when its short-sighted decision to switch newspaper delivery vendors failed spectacularly and we were there for the company when the faulty printing machines it purchased led to delays in putting out the paper.
And we were there for the company even when our lives were threatened by a heavily armed man in California.
We’re not asking for much in return. But the company is demanding too much of people who have still not recovered from the drastic wage cuts the New York Times imposed in 2009.
We hope this helps set the record straight. We invite you to approach our team with questions or comments. Your feedback is critical to us.
And if you’d like to share your thoughts with the company’s negotiating team, here are their names and contact information:
The Guild Bargaining Committee