Globe union: Lifetime guarantees here to stay?

I may have missed the biggest precondition set by the Boston Newspaper Guild earlier today re: its concession talks with the New York Times Co.--and the AP may have, too. Sharp-eyed readers tell me that the Guild statement effectively says the union has no intention of discussing the paper's lifetime job guarantees or their possible elimination. (The Globe's own report considers this possibility, but leaves the question open.)

Here's the relevant section, with the salient terms highlighted for emphasis:

The New York Times Co. and Globe management are seeking immediate cost savings. Subject matter having no cost saving attribution will not be subject to negotiation. If the purpose of the Globe’s current initiative is to “streamline” the enterprise for sale, the Guild proposes to deal directly with potential buyer(s) as identified by the Times Co. and Globe management.

Obviously, eliminating the lifetime guarantees would have profound cost-saving implications, since it could pave the way for nearly 200 Globe employees--inside and outside the newsroom--to lose their jobs. [Note: two readers argue that I've exaggerated the ease with which this could occur. For their explanations, see below.]

 But since such hypothetical elimination wouldn't save money right away--instead, it would pave the way instead for reductions that would then create savings--it would, in fact, seem to be precluded by the wording here. The small bit of wiggle room involves a sale from the NYT Co. to an unidentified, hypothetical buyer; in this scenario, the statement's language suggests at least the possibility that the Guild would discuss eliminating the guarantees in direct talks with the buyer in question.

I'm attempting to get confirmation from Dan Totten, the BNG's head; if I do, I'll post it here.

In the interim, just a couple more points. First, I've alluded before to tension between Guild employees inside and outside the union. If the Guild has said that lifetime guarantees aren't up for negotiation, I predict that this tension will be exacerbated, possibly to the breaking point--since it's easier for the Guild's journalists to envision a post-print future than many of its non-journalists.

Second, remember that survey the Guild sent out yesterday? Well, one of the questions (Number 8, to be precise) asked whether the elimination of the lifetime guarantees should be a "nonstarter" or "negotiable." Did the Guild really receive and tabulate enough responses between the time the survey was sent and the time today's statement was issue to decide on the latter?

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