NYT To Boston Globe Unions: Concessions in 30 Days – Or Else

Apr 4th, 2009 | By | Category: General, The New Media Update

Leaders from the 13 unions representing Boston Globe employees say that parent company New York Times Co. is demanding they agree to $20 million in concessions within thirty days — “or else the paper will be shuttered,” according to union officials who met with parent company management.

NYTimes Co. executives met Friday with union leaders in closed session, and discussed cutbacks and concessions that include “pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company, and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees now enjoyed by some veteran employees.” Concessions will be negotiated separately with each of the newspapers’ unions.

The Boston Globe has published continuously since the 1870’s, is among the top 20 newspapers in the U.S. (in terms of circulation), and is the largest newspaper in the region.

But the newspaper is on track to lose an estimated $85 million in 2009 “unless serious cutbacks are made,” according to the Globe article on the subject. They also report that, last year, the paper lost an estimated $50 million.

The Times Co., with troubles of its own [related stories here], posted a net loss of $57.8 million last year and no longer has deep-pocket latitude to maintain operating losses at its newspapers.

Other major-market newspapers are facing similar employee pay cuts, furloughs, staff reductions, and more  — or have suffered, as a consequence of not cutting back, the complete shutdown of their operation.

Just in the past six weeks, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer eliminated its paper edition and went online-only. The Rocky Mountain News announced an abrupt shutdown of all operations. Four Michigan papers, including the Ann Arbor News, are scaling back to 3x/week print editions – or firing all their staff and “going digital.” And late last year, the Detroit Free Press scaled back home delivery to three days/week, and the Chicago Tribune declared bankruptcy, shortly after the Christian Science Monitor unveiled plans to shift from paper edition to an all-digital publication.

Advertising revenues for newspapers are “falling off a cliff,” and as both advertisers and readers spread their attention and money among multiple media, newspapers are scrambling to cut costs and find new revenue models, while still providing a breadth and depth of news coverage in their local markets.

Image: Thomas Claveirole

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