After extending the deadline for $20 million in concessions from May 1st into the weekend, the Boston Globe and New York Times Company have come to an agreement that will prolong the life of the Boston Globe, at least for the time being. The agreement will postpone the current activities of shutting down the Globe, which would take 60 days to do.
From the New York Times:
In negotiations that went past the midnight deadline set by the company, deals were struck with three unions representing more than 500 mailers, drivers and press operators. More than ever, the fate of the paper appears to turn on talks with the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents more than 600 newsroom, advertising and business office workers. The company said it had also reached agreements with smaller unions representing machinists, electricians and other workers.
But in another statement released shortly before noon on Monday, the company confirmed the tentative deals with several unions and said, “We are not, therefore, making a filing today under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act,” but it did not foreclose that option in the future.
Apparently, a major holdup in the process was from the Globe’s writer union, who did not want to give up lifetime employment guarantees. Considering that 8,862 (and counting) newspaper jobs have been eliminated in 2009 alone (see the chart below), lifetime employment seems quite like the winning lottery ticket – unless of course, the newspaper and/or magazine gets shut down like the Rocky Mountain News and Portfolio.
So while the Boston Globe is safe for now, are we only delaying the inevitable? Yes, the unions have made some concessions, but there has not been a solution to the Globe’s major problem – revenue. Without a new revenue model we will only come down this path again, and every time it will get more and more difficult to fight through.