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Mooney speaks!

When the Boston Newspaper Guild reached a tentative agreement with management late last month, reporter Brian Mooney--a very vocal critic of the New York Times Co.--said he planned to vote "No," but that he "might stop screaming about it."

For a while, Mooney was silent. But now he's weighing in again--not emotionally, he says, but with "rational and persuasive" arguments for yet another contract-proposal rejection. (One of these references an article of mine; Brian, thanks for the mention). Here's the email Mooney sent this morning:

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Dear colleagues:

If we ratify this self-defeating proposal, we will exonerate the New York Times Co. and validate its despicable behavior in this tragic chapter in the history of  The Boston Globe. This fight is over only if we submit and surrender. We have one more chance to stand up and insist on decent treatment as employees and human beings.

I do not approach this emotionally, however. From the outset, I have studied corporate disclosure statements, consulted experts whose judgment I trust, and monitored the debate and media coverage. I have thought deeply about this and the potential consequences.

My purpose has been simply to gather enough information to make rational and persuasive arguments that could put the Guild in a
stronger position to stop the Times Company’s efforts to stampede us into a decision that will be harmful to our members, our families, and to the newspaper we love.

As devastating as this indefensible 23-percent pay cut is, time is our ally if we can hold out a little longer. We can do better, if we have the courage of our convictions.

These are reasons why I will vote “no” on July 20.

* This contract is, at best, marginally better than the one we voted down on June 8. Guild member David Butler has updated his graphic that illustrates how this package will cost many of us more than the barbaric 23-percent wage cut the NY Times Co. has imposed as punishment for standing up, exercising our rights, and rejecting their outlandish demands.

* The inequities remain -- we take nearly double the pay cut of managers, and we lose benefits like 401k match while managers receive a 67-percent increase in their 401k match.

* The paper is for sale, and it is highly unlikely the Times can unload us without a new contract and if there is the threat of an adverse finding by the National Labor Relations Board in the future. The company has never bargained in good faith, and a “no” vote would give us real leverage to bring them back to the table to work out a slightly better deal we can all live with.

* In the event the company refuses to negotiate, we should pursue our NLRB case against the Times and seek to recoup with interest the punitive 23-percent pay cut they illegally imposed in an effort to beat us into submission. An adverse finding at the NLRB would also unwind agreements the Times has extracted from other unions at the Globe. A “no” vote would preserve this powerful weapon.

We would have a strong case before the labor board. This is from an Adam Reilly story in the Boston Phoenix:

"The problem, according to Angela Cornell, a labor-law expert at Cornell University, is that the impasse the Times Co. has to declare legally before imposing that 23 percent pay cut was actually reached on the offer the union rejected this week, which involved a de facto 10 percent pay cut and various benefit reductions. "It's that proposal that the Times Co. can lawfully implement," explains Cornell. "But management apparently has some intention, instead, of implementing the 23 percent pay cut next week. That's a concern, because it could violate the section of the National Labor Relations Act that deals with bargaining violations."

* In their June 25 memo to employees, NY Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson enumerated the savings they have already wrung from the Globe and added this:

“There will be still more to come but with these steps the Globe is on a path to a more secure financial future.”

That undoubtedly means layoffs, and it makes sense for the company to browbeat the Guild into ratification before the next round of layoffs because it would save them a bundle in severance costs. The reason is that under the proposal we are being asked to ratify, every one of us will lose our accrued vacation from last year, a giveback that is worth more than $2 million to the company. For those being laid off, that will mean two or three weeks’ worth of pay deducted from their severance packages.

A “no” vote will either postpone layoffs or force the company to pay more in severance to those who will lose their jobs.

Stand up for yourselves.

Stand up for The Boston Globe.

Stand up to the New York Times Co.

Vote “no” on July 20.

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