Guild approves contract with Boston Globe Media, ending nearly three years of strife

After nearly three years of increasingly fraught negotiations, the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe Media Partners have finally reached agreement on a new three-year contract. The Guild is the union that represents newsroom employees at the Globe as well as several other departments. Staff members at Boston.com and Stat News are included as well.

Don Seiffert has the details in the Boston Business Journal, reporting that about 85% of Guild members approved the contract proposal, which calls for raises, a signing bonus, a new parental-leave policy, the continuation of overtime pay and unspecified protections against outsourcing.

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The Globe has been growing in recent years, as its paid digital subscription drive has led to profitability (at least before the pandemic) and new hires. William Turville wrote in the U.K.-based Press Gazette last week that digital-only subscribers have settled in at about 225,000, as the paper has retained most of those who signed up at a big discount during the height of COVID-19.

Still, there are warning signs for owners John and Linda Henry, as Seiffert notes. The contract talks grew increasingly contentious over time. In September, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey pulled out of a Globe-sponsored event in order to show their support for the union.

“There’s definitely a sour taste lingering in our mouths,” an anonymous union member told Seiffert. “I doubt any of us will trust our owners as much as we once did.”

Such feelings are understandable but can be overcome with time. The best way to do that is to put out a great newspaper.

Here’s a statement from management, as reported by the Globe:

A Globe spokesperson said the contract “provides strong protections and economic benefits for Guild members and we will immediately start working together on its implementation.”

“The Globe remains committed to journalistic excellence and a relentless focus on providing the best possible service to our region,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to invest and innovate in order to ensure that the local, independent journalism that our community has relied on for nearly 150 years will thrive and be sustainable for many years to come.”

And here’s a statement from the Guild, provided Friday night by a trusted source:

Dear Guild members,

Following the tabulation of today’s vote, we are pleased to announce that Guild membership has voted to ratify the three-year tentative contract agreement between the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe Media Partners.

Together, the two parties have reached an agreement that will benefit the approximately 300 members of the Guild while also providing the company some of the operational flexibility it desired to chart a path for the company’s future success.

As soon as the contract is officially ratified by both parties, which will happen in short order, Guild members will receive a $1,000 signing bonus and a 3 percent raise on their base salary. At the start of year two and year three of this agreement, members will receive 2 percent raises. After nearly three years of difficult negotiations, it is nice to know that our members will have some extra money coming in during the holidays.

Additionally, this agreement will help codify crucial employee rights that were at risk during many stages of these negotiations. All employees will be protected by the Guild’s powers of grievance and arbitration in matters of discipline, termination, and any attempt by the Globe to create new company policies. The Guild also ensured that strong fences have been put around the company’s ability to subcontract work to outside providers, a crucial compromise that protects the integrity of our newsroom. This agreement also retains the successors and assigns clause from our prior CBA, which means that the vast majority of Guild members will enjoy all of the rights afforded by this contract in the event that the Globe comes under new ownership.

This contract would not have been possible without the time and effort of so many of you who chose to fully engage, show up, and do the hard work required, despite the demands of your own busy lives. Through your words and actions over the last three years, we have reached an agreement that stands in stark contrast to the one we were first offered back in 2018. Over the next three years, we hope that every member will continue to stay involved and be vocal about policies you believe will create a better, stronger Boston Globe.

In solidarity,

The BNG Negotiation Team

Scott Steeves
Jenna Russell
Kevin Slane

Details emerge on Globe contract

Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal has some details on the proposed contract settlement between the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe management, news that I broke here on Friday afternoon. This is a huge step forward for the Globe, as three years of talks had become increasingly contentious.

As Seiffert notes, the two big takeaways are that management won on seniority and the union won on a clause that keeps the contract in effect in case the owners, John and Linda Henry, sell — although I think he’s on target in observing that management “may have used the threat of taking away that provision mostly in order to obtain other concessions from the union.”

A three-year union contract impasse at The Boston Globe may finally be ending

The Boston Newspaper Guild’s seemingly endless negotiations with Boston Globe management may finally be coming to a conclusion. According to an email I received from a trusted source, the two sides have reached a “full, comprehensive tentative agreement” that will most likely be put to a vote in mid-November. Union members have worked without a contract since the end of 2018; the proposed agreement would be for three years.

“This has been a long and difficult struggle,” according to an email sent to the membership. “Thanks in part to the vocal and active support we received from many of you, we have succeeded in holding onto some of the most important rights and protections the company sought to remove.”

I am not going to quote any further from the email. It’s a confidential document, and it’s newsworthy only to Guild members. Besides, it presents only one side’s assessment of the pros and cons of the agreement.

Nevertheless, this represents a huge step forward for Globe staff members and for the news organization itself.

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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.