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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The glass is half broken

It's a pretty twisted scenario to be sure, but there's a case to be made that the Boston Newspaper Guild won a victory for its members when the New York Times rejected its alternative $20 million concession package early yesterday.

In that brief moment, the Times blinked -- proving the endless sessions were not designed for negotiation but capitulation. Other unions gave up their lifetime jobs guarantee while the Guild held firm. The Times, which had been waving a 60-day plant shutdown notice, stuck its threat back into its briefcase.

Except of course that the 8th Avenue Overlords sill hold all the cards. And that many members of the Guild have no use for President Dan Totten's negotiating ploy.

And, with the Herald reporting that Totten has gotten raises while they've received bupkis over the last few years, they may have little use for Totten either.

Times brass appears ready to explore other options besides shuttering the Globe. Not content with the Guild's call for mediation, they are scouring the contract for the language they need to plow ahead and unilaterally eliminate the guarantees. And it is fairly plain, as Adam Reilly notes:
In the event of a dramatic and apparently irreversible downturn in the Globe's business, placing in jeopardy the continued existence or survival of the Globe, the parties will meet to discuss what reductions, if any, are necessary to this no-layoff list.
Dramatic downturn? No question. Apparently irreversible? That's where the debate will take place. Hopefully the Times' book are in better shape than when they made their $4 million oopsie last week.

In the end, the Guild will lose its lifetime job guarantees, more heads will roll and the paper will survive as a slimmed down shell of itself. Totten will be able to claim he stood up for his members -- and he may be allowed to leave the job with dignity. Or not.

And the Times? Its story today reflects the true bottom line: it's all about them. The story dealt almost as much with its own "sacrifices" and woes as it did with recounting the rubber truncheon "negotiations."

If you want a good outsider's perspective, check out the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. That's where you'll find all the news that's fit to print on this subject.

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