Monday, May 4, 2009

Boston Globe Unions vs New York Times Company

I have reported previously on how the confluence of two forces that are usually aligned cause conflict when they become CONSUMERS on one side of the table and LABOR on the other side.

The following examples demonstration my case:

  • Public Transit Union vs Community Activists.   While the Union demands higher wages, these higher wages translate into higher fares, harming the budgets of the poor who ride public transit
  • The same scenario with respect to Police/Firemen who demand more money while the tax payers of the city don't want to pay more taxes due to their own financial constraints but want more city services than what they are getting right now
  • Parents who favor Teacher's Unions but realize that their children are not in ideal academic settings and thus are not going to go against the teacher's unions who oppose changes to the distributuion of public education
These situations prove to be a "checkmate" event in which two ideologically compatible forces are not willing to 'cut the throat' of their partner.  Thus they typically resolve the stalemate by seeking resources from external sources to enable this conflict that can't be resolved in this closed system to be deescallated.

Now we have the New York Times Company with such a connundrum.  As owners of the NY Times they take the lead and thus the 'progressive side' in any conflict between labor and ownership.  Absent any skin in the game they are able to shame the ownership for driving a hard bargain to the detriment of the workers.

Now it seems that the New York Times Company is facing such a situation with the Boston Globe.  If the unions that work for the Globe don't free up $20 million in labor costs the Times threatens to shut down this sister paper that is equally as progressive in its editorial content.  

2 Globe unions reach agreement with NY Times Co.
BOSTON — Two unions representing Boston Globe workers say they've reached agreements on concessions with management as negotiations with the newspaper's largest union continue.

Mary White, president of Teamsters Local 1, which represents 245 mailers, says a tentative agreement was reached at around 4:30 a.m. Monday. It includes $5 million in concessions and changes in lifetime job guarantees. In a report on the Globe's Web site, White says the concessions were "necessary in closing the deal."

A union representing 210 delivery drivers also reached agreement Monday. Official Ralph Giallanella says the union agreed to about $2.5 million in concessions.

The New York Times Co., the Globe's owner, has said it will shut the paper unless it gets $20 million in concessions.

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