The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) has backed off its threat to file notice today to close the Boston Globe despite failing to reach agreement with the Boston Newspaper Guild. The company says it has reached agreements with six of the paper's seven unions but that it is exploring alternatives "under both the Guild contract and applicable law to achieve as quickly as possible the workplace flexibility and remaining cost savings we need to help put The Globe on a sound financial footing."
Globe management said late Sunday night that it was prepared to file notice today that it would close the paper in 60 days unless its unions agreed to $20 million in cuts. The original deadline was May 1; that was extended through the weekend because progress was being made. In response last night, the Guild said it had offered more than $10 million in cuts as the company demanded when it threatened in early April to close the paper. But the paper and its largest union appear to be far apart on one major sticking point: the right to fire hundreds of employees at will rather than only for cause.
More after the jump.
According to the Boston Globe, the union contends the so-called lifetime guarantees were paid for by earlier concessions when "no layoff" language was struck from the contract; roughly
450 veteran employees, 200 Guild employees are still covered by the provision.
$10 million not enough: Guild president Dan Totten told the Globe the union delivered $10 million in concessions "plus an extra $7,000 for good measure." The concessions across 20 categories included a 3.5 percent pay cut for most Guild employees, an unpaid furlough, the elimination of some employee holidays. The management response was swift, he said: Not enough. Other unions agreed to modify some of the job language, certain that was the only way to get to an agreement. Totten says there already is a way for the company to challenge the provisionbut it requires arbitration and opening the books.
Full Globe/NYTCo statement: "We are very pleased to have reached agreements with six of the seven unions that were involved in recent negotiations. This includes agreements with the drivers, mailers, pressmen, the electricians, machinists, and technical services group. As a result of these agreements, which are subject to ratification by union members, we expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility and the financial savings that we sought from these unions. We are not, therefore, making a filing today under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. We appreciate the productive and cooperative approach demonstrated by the leadership of these unions throughout these difficult negotiations.
We are disappointed, however, that we have not yet been able to reach an agreement with the Guild. Because of that, we are evaluating our alternatives under both the Guild contract and applicable law to achieve as quickly as possible the workplace flexibility and remaining cost savings we need to help put The Globe on a sound financial footing."
More to come.
By Staci D. Kramer