You could be forgiven for feeling like you heard it all before when you woke up this morning to headlines saying that The Boston Globe’s management and its largest union held talks to discuss pay cuts and other concessions to keep the 137-year-old daily newspaper breathing.
After all, you HAVE read it before — several times.
The union and the Globe both refuse to talk about what they’re discussing in private, but it’s pretty clear that you don’t meet for nearly 13 hours and pledge to meet again the next day if all you’re doing is altering some HR paperwork. The fact that a National Labor Relations Board meeting scheduled for today isn’t happening — it has been tentatively rescheduled — shows that “impasse” might no longer be the right word to characterize the dispute. The cut is still supposed to go into effect this week, though it should not be too hard for the Globe to deposit some cash into a reserve fund that it can use in the future if it ends up reaching an agreement with the guild.
The upshot of all this talk could be significant. The Times Co has taken off the table its threat to close the money-losing newspaper, which cools things off to some extent. Nevertheless, the company does not want to gut a property that it once praised to the skies and paid $1.1 billion for, even though its revenue is falling steeply enough that it needs to find some major ways to cut costs.
If the Times Co and the union can strike an accord over concessions, the Times can get out of what has become one of its toughest trials with cost savings AND its reputation of being a business that cares about journalism intact. Union members, meanwhile, will not have to think about their immediate plans for life with nearly a quarter less money than they were making before.
It’s not what flacks call a “win-win,” but at least everyone would walk away alive.