June 9, 2009 / 1:41 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Boston Globe union rejects concessions

* Boston Newspaper Guild votes 277-265 against concessions

* Guild says Times must improve its offer

* Times has threatened 23 pct pay cuts if union rejects

(Adds background on union vote)

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - The Boston Globe’s largest union narrowly rejected concessions on Monday that owner New York Times Co (NYT.N) said would save $10 million, raising the possibility of the 137-year-old daily newspaper’s demise.

Members of the Boston Newspaper Guild voted 277-265 against accepting the concessions, which include an 8.4 percent pay cut, one-week unpaid furloughs and other cuts.

The rejection raises the tension between the Globe and its largest union and casts the survival of one of the most respected U.S. daily newspapers into doubt.

The Times has threatened to cut pay at the Globe by 23 percent if the union voted against the concessions, something that the union has said it would challenge before the National Labor Relations Board.

The Times also has threatened to close the newspaper if it could not get $20 million in savings from seven unions. It wanted $10 million in savings from the Boston Newspaper Guild.

Six other unions have agreed to the concessions, leaving the Boston Newspaper Guild as the only holdout.

“With today’s vote, members of the Boston Newspaper Guild have said that the New York Times Company must do better than the offer that was presented,” Guild President Dan Totten said in a statement. “The Boston Newspaper Guild is committed to resuming good-faith negotiations with the New York Times Company and Globe management to reach an agreement.”

The results of the vote were posted on the Boston Newspaper Guild’s website on Monday evening. About 80 percent of the 690 members cast ballots at the Globe’s office on Monday.

Boston Globe officials were not immediately available for comment.

    The union’s “no” vote comes after it and the Times Co had reached a tentative accord a little more than a month ago on the cuts, which also include the elimination of other benefits, including lifetime job guarantees and an end to matching contributions to 401(k) retirement plans.

    The union and the Globe had negotiated over several sessions lasting into the night and had appeared to be heading toward an amicable conclusion by Monday.

    In the meantime some guild members became disenchanted with the perception that New York Times Co and Globe managers were doing well financially while union members had to sacrifice.

    The cuts are higher than the 5 percent pay cuts that other Times Co employees were saddled with earlier this year.

    The Globe, which the Times bought for $1.1 billion in 1993, is on track to lose $85 million this year, the Times Co has said. Its troubles have come to a head during the same year that papers such as The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News have shut down.

    Most of the more than 1,400 U.S. daily papers are suffering steep declines in advertising revenue, accelerated by the recession, as more people get their news online for free. The Times, like some publishers, also is trying to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

    Many media experts say that this is a pivotal time for the news industry as the Internet fundamentally changes the way people consume news.

    Reporting and writing by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Bill Trott

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