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Summary:

The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) jacked up the pressure in Boston late Sunday night with a warning that it plans to file state notice Mond…

The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) jacked up the pressure in Boston late Sunday night with a warning that it plans to file state notice Monday that it is closing the Boston Globe in 60 days — unless its four major unions and the company agreed on a deal by midnight to save $20 million. But midnight passed without any notice that a deal had been reached or negotiations ended; it is 2:20 a.m. ET as I write this and nothing definitive has been announced.

Filing the 60-day notice to close a plant does not mean the Globe will be closed and it doesn’t mean an end to negotiations. But it is the biggest weapon left in the company’s arsenal and the New York Times Co. wants to show that it means business — or no business.

The original deadline was midnight May 1; it was extended through the weekend after the Boston Newspaper Guild drew attention to a gap in the figures provided to it by the company and the sides admitted progress.

According to the Globe, though, union officials say they have essentially agreed to the concessions; the Guild said its proposal “exceeds the $10 million in cuts demanded and represents “tremendous sacrifices, across virtually all categories of compensation and benefits.” But the paper also reports that the Guild and the other unions are still resisting the company’s demand to eliminate so-called lifetime job guarantees; the guarantees mean the covered employees can only be fired for cause, not laid off at will. The guarantees were retained after concessions in contract negotiations, according to union officials.

NYTCo/Globe management statement: “We have provided our unions with a copy of a notice that we are prepared to file tomorrow if we are unable to reach an agreement by the midnight deadline. This notice is required under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires 60 days advance notice before the closure of a business. Filing the WARN notice is a difficult step that we would like to avoid but, unfortunately, given the state of the negotiations, it is one we must be prepared to take if negotiations are not successful.”

Guild response (via Boston Herald): “In response to this proposal, the Company tonight provided us with a copy of a notice drafted under the Workers Adjust and Retraining Notification Act. The WARN act requires sixty days advance notice before the closure of a business. The Company has said it is prepared to file this notice in the event negotiations are not successful. This tactic, while expected, is representative of the bullying manner in which the Times Company has conducted itself during these negotiations. Despite the Company

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  1. Not long ago, I remember reading an article about the resurgence of Big Labor. Membership was up, the Democrats were coming to power, and there was an expectation that Card Check legislation would tip the balance of power from individual union workers to union leadership. But what we see now is the exact opposite: The companies that the unions have fed upon are starting to close their doors and, along with them, the UAW, AFL/CIO, Guild, and countless other unions are being forced back to the bargaining table due to looming bankruptcies. There's plenty of blame to go around here. The unions blame corporate greed. The companies blame wage inflation and unreasonable contract demands from unions. But, you know, it was just a matter of time. You can't operate companies where the bulk of your revenue goes toward union pension benefits — and the union leaders who expected the gravy train to go on forever actually screwed their union members in the long run. And the worst news? Foreign competitors are poised to eat our lunch. Americans need to come to terms with the reality that a high school education doesn't justify $45 per hour. Foreign competitors are doing more for less, and we can no longer pretend that the product quality produced by our workers is better. It isn't. The newspapers are in a different position in that their primary work product is intellectual — not nuts and bolts and machine screws — but they also need to come to terms with the new reality that most people will receive their news electronically, not in print media. We're seeing a massive change here. And it's hard to accept change. But it's going to happen, regardless of what we do.

  2. David Lewenz Monday, May 4, 2009

    The bigger issue we are facing is the fact that the world is flat, and uneducated workers are going to be on the same playing field as our foreign competitors. Unless we undertake a massive re-education of our blue-pink work force we face the unchallenged fact that our country will not recover from this massive recession. Not only are we ill prepared to match our foreign competitors in solar, wind and fuel cell, but we lack a trained work force to enter these competitive industries. China is set to over take the United States on many levels of technology, Battery technology is at the for front.

    Can we retain newspaper printers, packers, delivery drivers into technology fields? As in most fields workers tend to find jobs in areas of comfort level acceptance. In this recession these jobs do not exist any more.

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