NY Times Company, Boston Globe Talk Past Deadline
May 4, 2009 - 5:31 AM<br />
Boston (AP) - Amid threats of a shutdown and allegations of bullying, talks between The Boston Globe's unions and its owner continued early Monday -- well past a midnight deadline -- as the sides sought to agree on $20 million in concessions to keep the newspaper open.
The Globe's owner, The New York Times Co., said it had given the Globe's biggest union a copy of a notice it was prepared to file Monday if it was unable to agree on the concessions by midnight Sunday. The 60-day shutdown notice is required under federal law.
The newspaper's largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, called the move a "bullying" tactic by the Times Co., which last month threatened to close the Globe unless its unions agreed to $20 million in cuts, half from the Newspaper Guild.
The Guild said it had proposed more than the $10 million in cuts sought by the Times Co. In a statement released two hours before the midnight deadline, the Guild said its proposed cuts called for "tremendous sacrifices, across virtually all categories of compensation and benefits."
Neither side would reveal what was bogging down the negotiations, but a key sticking point could be lifetime job guarantees.
"We are continuing to negotiate," Times Co. spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said early Monday.
The Times Co. has sought to eliminate the lifetime job guarantees, which give strong protection from layoffs. Staffers can still be let go for cause.
Guild President Daniel Totten has called elimination of the guarantees a "nonstarter."
Approximately 470 employees across six unions have the lifetime guarantees, including about 190 Guild members. Some veteran Globe workers believe eliminating the guarantees would allow the Times Co. to dismiss older, higher-paid employees.
The Guild did not release specifics on what kinds of wage or benefit cuts it had proposed to the Times Co. The union said further details would be made public once all Guild members have had a chance to review them.
It was unclear whether the Globe's other unions had made proposals for the remaining $10 million in cuts.
The Times co. would not comment on the Guild's proposal.
Like many other newspapers, the Globe has been struggling amid declining advertising revenues and dropping circulation as readers migrate to the Internet. The Globe had $50 million in operating losses in 2008 and is projected to lose $85 million this year.
The Times Co., which bought the Globe in 1993, has said that of all its newspaper properties, the Globe has been the most dramatically affected by the recession and the advertising downturn.
New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said at the company's annual shareholders meeting last month that more needed to be done to align the Globe's costs and revenues.
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