Monday, May 4, 2009

Globe threatens closure*

Are there any sacred cows left? Or have things gotten so bad that literally everything is negotiable? How much of tomorrow are you willing to surrender in order to preserve today?

These are the sort of very real questions facing journalists across the country. Most recently, the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents over 600 employees at the Boston Globe, has been forced to face some harsh choices. The New York Times Co. has been threatening to close the paper if demands for employee concessions are not met. Since last week, representatives from the company and the employee union have been trading proposals with the hopes of reaching an agreement.

But that was last week.

As of today, the New York Times is reporting that the talks have stalled, despite claims by the employee's union that concessions exceeding the Times Company's demands. For their part, the Times Company has announced that it plans to file a notice of their intent to close the Globe within 60 days.

Dire news and tough talk are nothing new to our members here as well. Over the last year, members at the Daily News and Press-Telegram have collectively been hit with an assortment of demands, including unpaid furloughs, a 401(K) freeze, layoffs, the loss of vacation accrual, and threatened wage cuts. And there's little reason to suspect that the worst is over.

Every newsroom is different, and so is each bargaining unit. Individual members have to decide what's right for them and their coworkers, and in this day and age that's no easy task. As the demands for concessions grows louder, it's unfortunate that few among the upper echelons have been willing to make similar sacrifices. But unfair as that may or may not be, it's irrelevant. Business decisions are made by the folks in charge, and if they're not fair, what can anyone do?

If threatened with closure, is there anything that's too important to give up? Is there a line that cannot be crossed? If so, where?

What do you think?

* At the zero hour, a crisis has been averted. According to >Poynter Online, a deal has been reached with six of the paper's seven unions, so the threatened closure is no longer necessary.

But the good news ends on an ominous note:

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.

For all the concessions, it appears the company is not satisfied yet. That doesn't bode well for the employees in Boston.

No comments:

Post a Comment