Newspaper Guild employees at the Boston Globe have, by a narrow vote, rejected a request by the paper's owner, the New York Times, to accept a new contract that would have included an 8.3 percent wage cut, five-day unpaid furloughs and cuts in health care benefits, 401(k) contributions and pensions. It also would have eliminated lifetime job guarantees for 190 Guild workers, which were negotiated in 1994.
Now that the request has been rejected, the Globe says it will impose an across-the-board pay cut of 23 percent for all Guild workers, a move that the union promises to sue over. The Globe says the 23 percent cut will achieve the 10 million dollar cut it needs to keep the paper from folding altogether.
I hate to take the side of management, but what are these union workers thinking? The Boston Globe lost 85 million dollars last year, and the New York Times, by itself, lost 75 million. Newspapers are not charities. Shareholders are not going to suffer losses just to keep newspaper reporters and editors employed. I agree that pay cuts and furloughs suck, but what is the alternative?
As I have written several times here, newspapers are dying. The cancer is terminal... it's just a matter of how long the patient can linger. By refusing to play along with management, the Newspaper Guild may have just unwittingly committed euthanasia in Boston.
Those workers say they won't go down without a fight. But they are still going down.