The growing Boston Globe’s biggest obstacle is ongoing labor strife

The Boston Globe keeps growing, announcing on Thursday that it’s adding a new section and newsletter on technology — an expansion made possible by two recent hires. It’s hard to think of a large regional paper other that the Globe that is actually building up rather than trying to stave off another round of cuts.

Yet labor strife at New England’s largest news organization seems to be getting worse. The Boston Newspaper Guild has targeted Globe Summit 2021 as a public relations opportunity in its nearly three-year-old quest for a new contract. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have pulled out of the event in solidarity with the union, according to a Guild press release.

It takes two sides to come to an agreement, and I know that management has its issues with the way the Guild has conducted negotiations — just as the Guild has issues with what it describes as hardball tactics and unreasonable demands.

But it’s way past time for Globe owners John and Linda Henry to figure out a way to wrap this up to everyone’s satisfaction. There are just too many other good things happening for them to continue to let this drag the paper down.

Warren posts video in support of the Globe’s union

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has posted a video in support of the Boston Newspaper Guild, which is involved in protracted contract talks with The Boston Globe. No word on what happened to the Mark Ruffalo video, which was taken down not long after it was published.

Mark Ruffalo video backs union at The Boston Globe

Mark Ruffalo, who portrayed then-Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes in the movie “Spotlight,” has recorded a video supporting the Boston Newspaper Guild in its push for a new contract.

Update, July 17. As you can see, the video has been taken down. No idea why.

Previous coverage.

Three Boston Globe unions raise specter of a possible strike

In the latest development in protracted labor strife at The Boston Globe, the Boston Newspaper Guild this morning issued a statement expressing solidarity with two other unions that represent Globe employees, the Teamsters and the International Association of Machinists. The Guild, which represents the newsroom, the advertising staff and several other departments, also raised the specter of a possible strike.

“All employees at The Boston Globe deserve respect,” the three unions said in a letter to management. “Yet, union members representing Globe staff have experienced management’s hostile anti-worker posture during the course of each union’s recent and protracted contract negotiations. We are coming together to say enough is enough.”

In response, Claudia Henderson, chief human resources officer for Boston Globe Media Partners, said in an email: “The Boston Globe has been committed to negotiating with all of our labor partners to provide workplace benefits and protections while ensuring our ability to continue our growth and investment in all of our newsrooms.”

Henderson’s full statement appears below. But first, the Guild’s statement:

Workforce unrest spreads at Boston Globe

Three different unions denounce “hostile” and “harmful” tactics by executives at New England’s largest newspaper

BOSTON, MA – Workers from three different labor organizations at New England’s largest newspaper are joining in chorus to decry working conditions and “harmful tactics” by John Henry and Linda Pizzuti Henry’s executive team. Together, the three groups represent hundreds of workers in nearly every department throughout The Boston Globe’s operations, including truck drivers, reporters, photographers and more.

After drawing heat for engaging former President Donald J. Trump campaign’s law firm of choice to handle labor negotiations, which prompted a “scathing rebuke” from Globe journalists about ethical concerns presented by the anti-worker firm’s hiring, Henry and Pizzuti Henry now face increasing criticism from beyond just the Guild union that represents newsroom staff.

Leaders from the Teamsters union and the International Association of Machinists have now joined with members in the Boston Newspaper Guild in calling the treatment of workers “dismissive” and “disrespectful” in a joint letter sent to top Globe brass on Thursday, including Henry and Pizzuti Henry.

“By continuing to engage in actions that foment strife within the company, you run the risk of rupturing that trust and of continuing to lose the talented workers who are the foundation of the company’s recent and future success,” said the letter to Boston Globe executives, which was signed by Stephen Sullivan, President of GCC/Teamsters Local 3 Boston; Michael Vartabedian, Assistant Directing Business Representative of the International Association of Machinists, District 15; and Scott Steeves, President of the Boston Newspaper Guild (BNG-TNG/CWA Local 31245).

In a recent internal poll, an overwhelming super-majority of members from the largest of those units, the Boston Newspaper Guild, said they would support a strike authorization vote if one were called by their bargaining committee.

“All employees at The Boston Globe deserve respect. Yet, union members representing Globe staff have experienced management’s hostile anti-worker posture during the course of each union’s recent and protracted contract negotiations,” read the letter. “We are coming together to say enough is enough.”

The communication marks a turning point as it represents the first coordinated action by the three different unions, all citing similar concerns with the approach being taken by Henry and Pizzuti Henry. Henry and Pizzuti Henry also own the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League.

In the spring, members of the Boston Newspaper Guild recorded a key victory when journalists at the Globe-operated health news website STAT joined the Guild. Previously, Pizzuti Henry’s announcement as the next CEO of the publication was clouded by the labor strife that has overtaken the Globe.

Workers at the Globe held out some hope that Pizzuti Henry would move on from the hostile, anti-worker policies being pushed before her tenure, but Globe employees say that the new CEO has failed to reconcile the differences causing an increasing schism at the publication.

Now, with multiple unions coalescing in the form of today’s letter and with talk of a potential strike vote, Pizzuti Henry and her executives face a mounting crisis of confidence at the Globe, even as management touts their increasing digital subscriber rates.

The members of all three unions have each been attempting to negotiate fair contracts at the Globe for more than two years. The Globe has generally failed to disclose its financial ties to Jones Day when running stories related to the controversial law firm and its suits, including those related to the 2020 election.

The executives named in the letter to Globe executives included:

Linda P. Henry, Chief Executive Officer, Boston Globe
John W. Henry, Owner, Boston Globe
Arch Carpenter, Senior Vice President of Print Operations
Claudia Henderson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Boston Globe Media Partners
Dan Krockmalnic, General Counsel, Boston Globe Media Partners
David Carillo, Chief Financial Officer, The Henry Organization
David Dahl, Deputy Managing Editor, Boston Globe
Jason Tuohey, Managing Editor – Digital, Boston Globe
Rich Ford, Director, Total Rewards
Trish Dunn, Partner, Jones Day

And, finally, Henderson’s statement:

The Boston Globe has been committed to negotiating with all of our labor partners to provide workplace benefits and protections while ensuring our ability to continue our growth and investment in all of our newsrooms. We are incredibly proud of the way this entire organization has continuously served our community. Throughout the time that we have been bargaining, we have sought to create a more evolved ethics  policy, and have created policies to allow for additional benefits during the pandemic, including $2,000 for employees with young children, $500 for home office set ups, care.com memberships, and additional days off for staff  to use in whatever ways work best for employees. We look forward to getting to resolution on all contracts and will always value the partnerships.

The Globe adds a R.I. podcast; the union pleads its case in a full-page ad

A couple of yin and yang notes about The Boston Globe this morning.

First, the paper has expanded its Rhode Island coverage by adding a podcast, “Rhode Island Report.” The guest for the debut is former Gov. Gina Raimondo, now the U.S. secretary of commerce.

It’s good to see the Globe doubling down on Rhode Island, which has really been underserved by Gannett’s Providence Journal. But I’ve been noticing more and more Rhode Island coverage making its way into the Globe’s print edition. I thought the idea was to leverage digital. If this continues, I hope there will be some consideration given to replating so that there are separate print editions for Greater Boston and Rhode Island.

I also hope John and Linda Henry are giving some consideration to expanding in Worcester, which is a virtual news desert these days. You may recall that employees at the city’s daily, the Telegram & Gazette, said John Henry promised to sell it to local interests or keep the paper after he acquired it from the New York Times Co. as part of the Globe deal. Instead, he sold it to a Florida chain, and it eventually was passed off to GateHouse Media, now Gannett. (When I asked Henry about it several years ago, he told me he believed he had only promised not to sell to GateHouse.)

Second, the Greater Boston Labor Council, the Greater Boston Building Trades Union and the Communication Workers of America have purchased a full-page ad in today’s Globe in support of the Boston Newspaper Guild’s long quest for a new contract. You can see the ad here.

The Globe’s Stat goes union

Some pretty big news from the Boston Newspaper Guild: “Dozens” of journalists at Stat, the health- and life-sciences digital news organization that’s part of Boston Globe Media Partners, are becoming part of the union.

Stat was started in 2015, and its non-union status has been a source of tension, at least among some Globe staffers, right from the beginning — especially since Stat journalism often gets carried in the Globe.

The news comes after a year in which Stat really came into its own as a nationally respected source of information about the COVID epidemic. The full text of the press release from the Guild follows.

Journalists at Award-Winning STAT Are Joining The Boston Newspaper Guild

The Boston Newspaper Guild welcomes dozens of STAT media company employees operating in bureaus nationwide and overseas to the union representing workers at New England’s largest newspaper

BOSTON – Dozens of journalists from the award-winning STAT media company will be joining The Boston Newspaper Guild (BNG), the union which represents more than 300 Boston Globe employees, union representatives announced today.

“Becoming part of the Guild matters when it comes to things like job security, wages, and protection in the event ownership changes. This is a really exciting moment for us,” said STAT reporter Damian Garde. “I’m looking forward to collaborating on critical issues like securing better health insurance and other key benefits.”

“Having STAT workers become part of the Guild means a stronger voice. We all work within the structure of the Boston Globe Media Partners and we stand united,” said Guild President Scott Steeves, a publication layout designer at The Globe since 1984. “At a time when independent journalism is so important, Guild members strive to deliver the highest-quality news product possible while also standing together to ensure economic and workplace protections. Our members fight for good working conditions, fair treatment by management, and equitable opportunities when it comes to career advancement.”

STAT is a media company focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. STAT is produced by Boston Globe Media and headquartered in Boston, but has bureaus and journalists in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. It was created by Globe Media owner John Henry.

STAT employs some of the best-sourced science, health, and biotech journalists in the country, as well as motion graphics artists and data visualization specialists.

Despite the skill and talent they contribute, these employees lack robust representation at work, an inequity that will be remedied with their inclusion in the Guild. With the rapid changes in media organizations, and increased corporatization of the news industry, the ability to advocate and speak out at work is essential.

BNG represents The Globe’s reporters, editors, page designers, web producers, advertising salespeople and advertising sales support persons, ad-designers, circulation managers, accountants, marketers, and information technology specialists, security guards, shippers/receivers, nurses, and secretaries. For decades, its members have produced Pulitzer Prize-winning, nationally-acclaimed work, as well as safeguarding the rights and benefits of Globe employees.

The STAT announcement takes place amid ongoing concern about Globe management’s handling of New England’s largest newspaper and its treatment of employees, who have been working for more than two years without a new contract. For months, Globe management has pushed to take away long-standing workplace protections and benefits. The Globe has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to retain the services of Jones Day, a law firm known for using questionable tactics to break media company unions.

“The work accomplished by the reporters at STAT over the past year was nothing short of extraordinary,” said business reporter and Guild member Janelle Nanos. “They helped drive the national coverage of the pandemic and in so doing, helped shape the conversations about how best to protect the nation. We at the Guild think it’s obvious that they should be afforded the same workplace protections as the Globe newsroom staff.”

“Our union will represent all workers who work as part of Boston Globe Media Partners in order to ensure everyone receives fair compensation for their work, while also improving transparency around employee benefits and building a culture that reflects the diversity, values, and strength of its workers,” said Guild recording secretary and reporter Matt Rocheleau. “STAT workers deserve a collective voice and seat at the table, together we can start collaborating and negotiating for a more equitable workplace.”

Globe employees union launches publicity campaign as negotiations drag on

The following is a press release from the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents more than 300 Boston Globe employees. Publication does not equal endorsement, though I am sympathetic to the Globe staff, which has been working without a contract for a long time. I would, of course, welcome a response from Globe management.

Largest Newspaper in New England Faces Upheaval 

Journalists and Staff Launch Campaign to Alert Readers of Deepening Crisis at The Boston Globe

BOSTON, MA — Amid ongoing labor strife within the newsroom and questions about management’s ties to Donald Trump’s election campaigns, Boston Globe staff and journalists are saying through a new public information campaign that newspaper executives are at risk of letting down their employees and readers at a time when reliable news sources are needed more than ever.

Today, the paper’s employees, who have won Pulitzer Prizes, Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, and other honors for distinguished news coverage, announced the launch of a new public information campaign: “Dear Globe Readers.” Hitting airwaves, mailboxes, social media, the “Dear Globe Readers” campaign will publicize the plight and concerns of Globe staff to a key audience — the newspaper’s readership.

Recently, Linda Pizzuti Henry was named Chief Executive Officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, on the same day that Globe employees criticized the company for its relationship with the Jones Day law firm. As a law firm of choice for Donald Trump’s election campaigns, Jones Day has been widely denounced for its role in a lawsuit that sought to challenge the electoral integrity of the November 2020 U.S. election.

“Ultimately, it is the readers who are hurt the most when Boston Globe executives and their Trump-affiliated law firm push policies that threaten to increase turnover among newsroom staff,” said Scott Steeves, President of the Boston Newspaper Guild and a 37-year employee of The Boston Globe. “In order for us to bring readers breaking news and the best coverage, we need The Boston Globe to take a new approach to how it treats its workforce, beginning by rescinding the proposals put forward by its Trump-affiliated law firm that would undermine journalistic freedom, quality, and independence in the newsroom.”

DearGlobeReaders.org provides readers with information about how the Henrys have empowered Jones Day, a law firm known for its aggressive tactics against media company unions, to push policies that journalists and union leaders say have hurt workers and harmed the quality of the news produced.

The campaign launch marks a coordinated and escalated response by journalists in response to ongoing attacks against the rights of newsroom staff that are being waged by Globe management and by Jones Day. Management and Jones Day continue to push policies to roll back workplace rights, even as members of the Boston Newspaper Guild have worked for more than two years without a new contract.

The “Dear Globe Readers” multimedia campaign will air ads during primetime television on top-rated cable networks such as CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, TNT, and more. Postcards promoting the “Dear Globe Readers” campaign will land in the mailboxes of thousands of Globe readers.

Under the Henrys’ direction, Jones Day has been brought in to create policies that Guild members say will continue to drain the newsroom of some of its most talented and seasoned frontline contributors. DearGlobeReaders.org claims that such practices will endanger The Boston Globe’s ability to provide its readers prompt, accurate and objective information.

Guild members have said that they feel subscriber money is being squandered on Jones Day and the protracted negotiations, and that the Henrys have turned their backs on journalists who report and produce the news each day, even as the pursuit of a story has led many Globe journalists to put their own health and safety at risk amidst a pandemic.

The “Dear Globe Readers” campaign informs the public about the challenges at the paper and urges readers to demand that the Henrys preserve The Boston Globe’s commitment to delivering New England the highest quality daily journalism.

“We’re proud of The Globe’s reputation and the work we do,” said Steeves. “We hope the Henrys will choose to change course and that they will take action to show they value those who bring the news to Globe readers.”

# # #

About The Boston Newspaper Guild:

The Boston Newspaper Guild is the employee union for The Boston Globe. We proudly represent more than 300 employees including reporters, editors, page designers, web producers, advertising salespeople and advertising sales support persons, ad-designers, circulation managers, accountants, marketers and information technology specialists, security guards, shippers/receivers, secretaries, and more. Our members produce Pulitzer Prize-winning, nationally-acclaimed work for The Boston Globe.

Globe union rips management for using Trump law firm in contract negotiations

In a press release sent out earlier today, the Boston Newspaper Guild rips John Henry, Linda Pizzuti Henry and Boston Globe management for using the controversial law firm of Jones Day in contract negotiations.

This is not a new complaint, as Jones Day is sometimes characterized as a union-busting operation. But now the firm has been called out for representing President Trump in his efforts to overturn the election results.

Comments are open. Please include your full name, first and last, and speak with a civil tongue.

Newspaper Guild charges Boston Globe management with unfair labor practices

The increasingly ugly contract negotiations between the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe management have taken a turn for the worse. According to Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal, union employees were scheduled to stage a lunchtime walkout today.

Meanwhile, the Guild’s executive committee announced this morning that it would file an unfair labor practices complaint against management with the National Labor Relations Board. The executive committee’s statement is as follows:

Contract negotiations between the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe Media Partners show the company has no intention of backing down from its draconian proposals.

After eight months of bargaining, the company still expects us to give up overtime, seniority, pay scales, job descriptions, severance, protections from having our jobs outsourced, and more.

The union would also lose the right to defend its members against management abuses.

The company has also stated that any wage increases would not be retroactive. Their negotiators even turned down a simple union request to extend the time vacations could be rolled over even though it would cost the company nothing.

All this is being done under the guise of creating a more “flexible and nimble” company. What it will do is create a more rigid working atmosphere with fewer rights for workers.

Given the slow pace of contract negotiations and the insulting strong-arm tactics used by the company’s lawyers, the Guild has decided file an unfair labor practice charge against the Globe.

We will accept nothing but a fair contract.

Signed,
The Boston Newspaper Guild Executive Committee

The Guild represents about 300 employees. (Note: I’ve deleted a copy of the Guild’s complaint. It included several email addresses and phone numbers, and the content added nothing to the statement above.)

Earlier: Newspaper Guild and John Henry trade charges over Globe contract talks (Feb. 27)

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Newspaper Guild and John Henry trade charges over Globe contract talks

Contract negotiations between The Boston Globe and the Boston Newspaper Guild are becoming increasingly tense, with the Guild accusing management of union-busting and Globe publisher John Henry denying it.

Earlier this week the Guild posted an open letter to John Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, who is the paper’s managing director. The key takeaway:

Now, we are in the midst of negotiations led by a mercenary law firm that is trying to bully your employees into a contract that essentially asks them to give up their rights as union members. These tactics are threatening to destroy the long-standing, constructive and respectful relationship between the Guild and management. This approach to collective bargaining has also stoked feelings of deep anger and even betrayal among employees. It is doomed to fail.

That was followed by John Henry’s sending an email to the Boston Business Journal in response to the Guild’s letter. The highlight:

Globe management has set a very simple but very important goal of strengthening our newsroom for the challenges of a long-term future in local journalism. The Globe and the guild need to engage in a collaborative effort designed to ensure what both sides need in order to have a vibrant workplace and serve the needs of our community.

This has been ugly right from the start, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.

Earlier: “Newspaper Guild blasts Boston Globe management over contract woes” (Dec. 14).

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