Union greed and intransigence could kill off The Boston Globe newspaper, despite six of the seven unions with members at the struggling paper agreeing to give up concessions to keep the paper alive.

The cupidity of the Newspaper Guild at the Globe, which is trying to protect 190 highly paid people with life-time job guarantees of the Guild’s 600 members at the Globe, contrasts not only with the concessions from the other unions on that paper, but with the vote by unionised employees at The New York Times who said yes to a 5% pay cut overnight.

That pay cut will now be extended to all non-unionised employees at the Times, according to the Reuters report:

New York Times newspaper employees who are members of the New York Newspaper Guild voted 377 to 36 to ratify the pay cut agreement, which includes 10 additional paid days off, while Guild members at the Times‘ digital unit ratified the agreement by a 50-0 vote, according to the memo.

The Guild members signed off on an agreement with New York Times management last week designed to save the newspaper $US4.5 million, Reuters reported. “The vote paves the way for the pay rates of more than 1,300 newspaper and online employees to be reduced starting Tuesday, according to the memo.”

That the New York Newspaper Guild members at the Times could vote convincingly for a wage cut, tells us a lot about the greed of the Boston Newspaper Guild and its members at the Globe with their cushy jobs.

Talks between Times Co., Globe management and the Guild resumed a few hours ago (Tuesday evening in Boston) and are scheduled to last most of the night.

The Times Co. wants union members to agree to $US20 million of concessions to cut the $US85 million loss estimated for this year.

Six of the seven unions with members at the Globe have reached tentative agreements.

Yet the jobs of 410 other Guild members at the paper could be endangered by the union’s stance. The union wants a 3.5% wage cut, unpaid leave and other concessions instead of the changes to the lifetime guarantee.

Reuters reported that Mary White, president of Teamsters Local 1, which represents 245 mailers, said the talks were “very, very difficult.” “It hasn’t been negotiations, it has been concessionary bargaining,” she said on local WBZ radio.

“It has been: ‘What can you give up?'”

Two locals with 450 Globe delivery drivers and mailers agreed to cuts that will save the company $US7.5 million a year. But not the Boston Newspaper Guild.

The difference between the Globe staff unions and between the Guilds in Boston and at the Times in New York tells us a lot about how many people in the media can’t grasp the enormous and rapid change overtaking the industry.

Peter Fray

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