Business, Economics and Jobs

"Boston Globe" threatens to close


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Another newspaper teeters on the brink. The largest union at the "Boston Globe" and the paper's management have stopped negotiating. The paper wants contract-concessions from the Newspaper Guild; without them, the paper says it will close.

The New York Times Company, which owns the "Globe," had set a May 1 deadline for the unions to make $20 million dollars in concessions, saying if they didn't get those cuts, they would shut down the 137-year-old paper -- a threat the unions call bullying.

In the last few months the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" switched to a web-only publication, the "Rocky Mountain News" in Denver closed, and the Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  

"Here and Now's" Curt Nickish explains the pressures facing another daily newspaper.

The unions had agreed to give up a total of $10 million dollars in pay and benefits, and also lifetime job guarantees.

The head of the Pressman's Union, Martin Callahan, said his union realized what had to be done: "I would characterize it as, unfortunately, a necessary evil. It's the economic times, it's the newspaper industry in general, and the "Boston Globe" in particular."

Which leaves the Newspaper Guild as the one holdout. While they've also come up with with $10 million in cuts, the Guild is refusing to give up the lifetime job guarantees.

Nickish says the "Globe" expects to lose $85 million this year, and management needs the flexibility to cut a broad range of jobs if necessary, and lifetime job guarantees do not give them the flexibility.

Nickish: "There are certainly a lot of workers who think, give up the concessions, give up the lifetime job contracts because we need to save the 'Globe.' Others of course, and many of those who have the lifetime job guarantees, say New York Times management when they bought the paper, they bought into these contracts, they made a promise, they need to live up to it."

According to Nickish, the Newspaper Guild is the biggest union, and have the most to lose.

He explains the "Globe's" troubles: "The 'Boston Globe' is a big newspaper, they're losing money and they have big costs. The other reason is that they were also very successful at their online version, which drove ironically, a lot of people away from subscriptions to online, which doesn't make as much money."

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