Boston Globe, union to meet next week on pay cuts

NEW YORK Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:42am EDT

A morning delivery of the Boston Globe newspaper sits on a front porch in Medford, Massachusetts May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A morning delivery of the Boston Globe newspaper sits on a front porch in Medford, Massachusetts May 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Boston Globe and its largest union ended this week's second marathon round of talks early Wednesday morning without a deal on pay and benefit cuts, and plans to meet again next week.

Nearly 700 Globe employees face a 23 percent wage cut that goes into effect this month after they rejected a smaller pay cut and benefits cut package.

Boston Newspaper Guild and Globe negotiators met for more than 12 hours at the union's offices in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and ended the meeting before dawn on Wednesday.

"We have not reached an agreement with the Guild and are tentatively scheduled to meet again for discussions on Monday, June 22," Globe spokesman Robert Powers said. "The wage reduction of 23 percent remains in effect."

Guild President Dan Totten said the union is "optimistic about the prospects for reaching an agreement," adding that discussions would occur before next Monday.

The two sides are trying to agree on concessions that the Globe's owner, The New York Times Co, says are crucial for the survival of the 137-year-old, money-losing newspaper.

The Times imposed a 23 percent wage cut on union members after they voted against an 8.4 percent pay cut, furloughs and a scaled-back retirement package. The union says the 23-percent cut is illegal and is challenging it before the National Labor Relations Board.

The Times said the union must come up with $10 million in savings, half of $20 million that the company insists that the Globe must cut from its budget. It said the paper could report an operating loss of $85 million this year absent those cuts.

The Times Co had declared talks at an impasse, but subsequently backed off its refusal to discuss a new concessions package.

The union in turn postponed its first meeting with the National Labor Relations Board, a government body that investigates unfair labor practices.

An accord between the Globe and the union would be an important step for the Times Co, which plans to try to sell the paper that it bought for $1.1 billion in 1993.

The Times has hired Goldman Sachs to field interested parties. But it is unlikely to start shopping the paper until it resolves the labor dispute, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

The paper's value has been estimated from as high as $250 million down to as little as nothing, according to media and analyst reports.

(Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Derek Caney)

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