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Boston Globe talks on hold, closure threat eases
NEW YORK/BOSTON |
NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Globe and its biggest union suspended talks on Monday over concessions that parent company The New York Times Co is seeking to keep the 137-year-old newspaper open.
That leaves the future of New England's largest newspaper in doubt, although the company said it would not file papers on Monday that would allow it to close the paper in 60 days.
The Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents some 600 workers, including the newsroom staff, is now the sole holdout in talks over cost-cutting after the Globe reached deals with three smaller unions that represent those who print and deliver the paper.
A major sticking point has been lifetime job guarantees the union wanted to preserve and management wanted to end.
"The negotiations are done today," union President Daniel Totten told reporters in Weymouth, Massachusetts, where talks were held over the weekend.
"We will reconvene in short order," Totten said, according to a report on the Globe website.
The Globe backed away from an earlier threat it would make a regulatory filing that would have allowed it to close the paper in 60 days. But it said it was "disappointed" not to have reached an agreement with the Guild.
"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," the paper said in a statement.
The agreements with the other unions included some changes to a system that provides lifetime employment to certain workers, although the unions did not provide specific details. The unions have argued ending lifetime job guarantees would pave the way for layoffs of senior staff.
Management rejected the Newspaper Guild's offer, which includes a 3.5 percent pay cut for most employees, an unpaid furlough, an increase in the early retirement age and a reduction in pension and 401(k) contributions, the Globe said.
The two sides have not set a time or location for the next round of talks, said a source who was not authorized to discuss the matter.
The source said it was possible talks could resume later Monday or on Tuesday.
A New York Times spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Times Co had set midnight Sunday as the deadline to extract $20 million in cuts from its unions to avoid closing the Globe, which it said could lose $85 million this year.
The Globe is a mainstay of New England news consumers. It is the 17th largest paper in the United States by daily paid circulation and 13th-largest on Sundays.
Its local daily rival, The Boston Herald, has an average weekday circulation of more than 150,000 and a Sunday circulation of more than 95,000.
Two locals of the Teamsters union, which collectively represent about 450 Globe delivery drivers and mailers, reached agreements that would save the company about $7.5 million, according to local media reports. Teamsters officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking a comment.
Mary White, president of Teamsters Local 1, which represents 245 mailers, said the talks were "very, very difficult."
That union agreed to changes to the system of lifetime job guarantees, according to local media reports.
"It hasn't been negotiations, it has been concessionary bargaining," she said on local WBZ radio. "It has been: 'What can you give up?'"
Martin Callaghan, president of The Boston Newspaper Printing Pressmen Union called the trade-off "a necessary evil."
"It's the economic times, it's the newspaper industry in general," Callaghan told local radio station WBZ.
New York Times shares were up 22 cents at $5.62 on the New York Stock Exchange in early afternoon trading.
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