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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Communications breakdown

The Boston Newspaper Guild's members salaries are on the chopping block and the Globe is on the selling block.

Did anyone really think the outcome would be different?

The narrow no vote Monday by the guild's membership was the final impediment for the New York Times to put the troubled property on sale. Not that it becomes a prize, given the contentious labor relations between the 8th Avenue Overlords and the folks who fill the ever-shrinking pages with news and advertising.

And while I have been sympathetic to the argument that the Times has not played fair with its largest union, I do have to ask Guild members -- did you really think you could successfully call their bluff and force new talks?

Did you really think management would consider risking the wrath of the craft unions who labor along side of you and who went along with their proposals?

There was a total breakdown within the Guild -- between the newsroom and the advertising side, exacerbated by a leadership that failed to take the interests of all of its members to heart. The results are visible today in the wreckage of the budgets of Guild members and in the plaintive plea for justice from Young Arthur Sulzberger.

Filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board will only prolong the drama and pain. The best outcome they could hope for is that a resolution of the action MIGHT be part of any sale.

Certainly no new owner would come in with a pending complaint. As long as it is hanging on the air, no potential buyer would consider the Globe to be at labor peace.

The Globe finds itself in the mess it is in today because of intransigence and poor negotiations -- on both sides. It didn't have to happen this way.

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