THE UNION REPRESENTING Boston Globe employees filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the company on Tuesday, alleging management and its attorneys are using “strong-arm tactics” to force draconian concessions from workers.
More than 60 members of the union walked out during lunchtime Tuesday at the Globe’s headquarters in downtown Boston and at the paper’s production facility in Taunton. The employees, including reporters, copy editors, and marketing, publishing, and business workers represented by the Boston Newspaper Guild, say they have been working without a new contract since December 31, 2018.
The unfair labor practice complaint was filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Workers said management is proposing elimination of overtime for many employees as well as givebacks on seniority, severance payments, and won’t budge on its unused vacation days policy. A previous proposal by management offering a 2 percent wage increase has been taken off the table, employees said.
Alan McDonald, an attorney with McDonald Lamond Canzoneri who is representing the union, said proposed cuts to severance payments are substantial, with most employees facing a 50 percent reduction.
He said the company is also proposing to do away with protections based on seniority in the case of layoffs. He said the Globe’s proposal would allow the company to “pick and choose” who is laid off.
Maria Cramer, a reporter who also serves as vice president of the Guild, said the company is proposing significant changes to mediation and arbitration clauses in the contract. If the company’s proposal is adopted, Cramer said, workers would have few protections in disputes with the company. She said the company could basically say: “We have reviewed your complaint, we don’t agree to it, good luck to you.”
Jane Bowman, a spokeswoman for the Globe, released a statement saying the company is in active negotiations with the union and making progress. “We respect our employees expressing their interests as we all work to ensure the vibrancy of our newsroom and support the essential role we play in our community,” the statement said.
The walkout by Globe employees follows several other attempts to put pressure on Globe management, which is led by owner John Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, who serves as the paper’s managing director.
In February, the Guild posted an open letter to Henry and Pizzuti. In May, more than 200 employees signed a petition for a fair contract that was sent to Globe president Vinay Mehra.
The Globe has posted gains in digital subscriptions while the number of print subscribers has steadily declined. Last October, Bowman said the paper‘s internal numbers indicated it had hit 100,000 digital–only subscriptions, a figure touted nationally among mid-sized papers.
In the three years prior to October 2018, the average number of Sunday print subscribers declined by 44,466, while the average number of Sunday digital subscriptions grew by 25,389. Daily print circulation fell by 21,876 over that period, while daily digital subscriptions increased by 26,673.