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June 15, 2009

Covering the roiling labor dispute between The New York Times-owned Boston Globe and its biggest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, is all about hours (or days) of tedium, punctuated by brief, jarring moments of action — usually when reporters are scrambling to catch up with the Globe’s own coverage of its future.******Our Boston-based interin Erin Kutz got a taste of this on Monday when I asked if she could go to Weymouth, Massachusetts, to stake out the scheduled talks between the Globe and the guild.******To recap: Guild members on June 8 rejected a concession package that the Times Co said it needed to get $10 million in savings that would help save the paper from, well, annihilation. In response to the union’s “no” vote, the Times did what it promised to do: cut guild salaries by 23 percent to get the savings. Now, the two sides are about to duke it out in front of the National Labor Relations Board, which has its first hearing on the case on Tuesday.******But first, the guild and the union met in Weymouth today to discuss… stuff. The Times said it was about implementing the pay cut. The guild said it was an opportunity to present a new proposal. The Times doesn’t want to give the impression that it’s still open to discussion because the only way that it can get the government to allow the 23 percent pay cut is to prove that it reached an impasse with the guild.******So what’s going on in there? Erin reported back that nobody is saying very much, even after waiting there with the TV crews for more than four hours. Talks are scheduled to go on, but in the meantime, Globe reporter and union member Scott Allen brought this message from guild President Dan Totten, who’s locked up with the Times crew in Weymouth:***

Things are moving forward. I can tell you they’re speaking in civil tones. I think the mood by the end of last week was as bad as the situation is. It is something we can fix and both sides, management included, are motivated to bring this thing to a close and move on to the next chapter.

******Allen also said:***

I’m not particularly frightened about having a new owner. It could be an exciting and positive development, but it makes a big deal of difference who that is.

******Does this sound like an impasse to you?******(PS, Erin got to go home, finally)******(Photo: Reuters)

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