Totten flatters Globe newsroom, warns his membership

Today's Globe story on the concessions the NYT Co. is seeking from the Globe's mailers mentions a letter sent by Boston Newspaper Guild head Dan Totten to his membership (which doesn't include the mailers), noting that Totten urged his members to speak with one voice and not be bullied by the Times Co.

I've been forwarded the letter in question. A couple things jumped out at me when I read it. First, Totten makes a point of praising the Globe's newsroom members, some of whom have been wondering whether they're well served by Totten and the rest of the BNG's leadership. Second, Totten urges his members not to offer any concessions voluntarily--which makes me think that such offers have either been made already or are anticipated in the near future.

Here's the letter in its entirety, with the aforementioned sections bolded:

Dear Boston Newspaper Guild member;

As you know, the New York Times Company has unilaterally placed the very existence of the Boston Globe in jeopardy - and along with it the well being of the hundreds of hard working men and women who make it one of the premier newspapers in America.

The behavior of the Times Company is unconscionable. That such a pillar of journalism and free speech would contemplate silencing the voice of the Globe - and along with it the voices of those for whom the Globe has stood to protect for 137 years - is astonishing.

There was a time when Globe employees - in addition to their deep pride for what this newspaper stood for under the great leadership of its founding family - also felt good about sharing in what it meant to be a part of the Times Company.

That period has long since passed.

Today we are faced with a challenge that will only be overcome through unity and solidarity among members.

The New York Times Company has made its intentions known. Even as Times Co. management continues to enjoy lucrative salaries and large bonus payments, they wish to subject workers to a devastating "one-time" layoff outside the provisions of the contract; strip health coverage from retirees who devoted their lives to the Globe; gut the pension and 401(k) plans on which employees and their families are relying; and eliminate a range of employee protections that, in some cases, are clearly non-negotiable under terms of the contract that the Times Co. has agreed to in past bargaining sessions.

The Boston Newspaper Guild will not allow its members to be bullied by the New York Times Company. But Guild leadership needs your help.

As we face this challenge in negotiations with management, we must speak with a unified voice. Indeed, the importance of maintaining a consistent message under these conditions cannot be overstated.

We are incredibly fortunate that among the ranks of our membership are some of the most skilled and intelligent communicators in the industry.

Every member is an important resource for the Guild at a time like this. And it is very likely that we will need the assistance of our membership - and the benefit of their skills - to help develop and deliver our message to various audiences.

It is imperative, however, that no union member voluntarily offer up concessions to management. Our rights and benefits are not free for the taking. If we are to make concessions, they are to be part and parcel of a strategy that benefits every one of us. We give nothing away - lest the trade wind up being for the job of a co-worker who may be sitting beside you.

I am proud to serve the Boston Newspaper Guild at a time when its need is so great.

And I am heartened by the tremendous resource we have in Guild membership.

In unity - with a strong voice and consistent message - we will overcome this challenge.


Dan Totten


Boston Newspaper Guild

TNG - CWA Local 31245

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