Saturday, April 4, 2009

One newspaper holds another hostage: Boston Globe to close with major union concessions

The New York Times -- rescued financially by a Mexican billionaire -- is offering no such refuge to unions representing The Boston Globe with a threat to close the newspaper without major concessions.

Imagine Boston without The Globe. Although it may be inconceivable, it is how bad things have gotten for the newspaper industry. The Globe loses money. As one analyst said, advertising revenue has fallen off the cliff.

Boston is a two newspaper city, with The Herald, a conservative publication.

The Globe reports on its own hostage situation:

The New York Times Co. has threatened to shut the Boston Globe unless the newspaper's unions swiftly agree to $20 million in concessions, union leaders said.

Executives from the Times Co. and Globe made the demands Thursday morning in an approximately 90- minute meeting with leaders of the newspaper's 13 unions, union officials said. The possible concessions include pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees now enjoyed by some veteran employees, said Daniel Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's biggest union, which represents more than 700 editorial, advertising and business office employees.

The concessions will be negotiated individually with each of the unions, said Totten and Ralph Giallanella, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Local 259, which represents about 200 drivers who deliver the newspaper.

"We all know the newspaper industry is going through great transition and loss," said Giallanella. "The ad revenues have fallen off the cliff. Just based on everything that's going on around the country, they're serious."

Catherine Mathis, a Times Co. spokeswoman, declined to comment. Globe publisher P. Steven Ainsley also declined to comment.

The newspaper industry, which had already been struggling as readers and advertisers moved to the Internet, has been hard hit by the recession, and the Globe is no exception. The newspaper's advertising revenues have declined sharply in recent years; once robustly profitable, it is now losing money.

No comments: