If you’ve ever wondered why the New York Times‘ labor coverage is just so bad, a lot can be learned by looking at the company’s treatment of its own workers. Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten has published an open letter (6/3/09) about how the Boston Globe-owning Times has chosen to “behave in a highly challenging situation” and what his union has “learned about New York Times Company management–and its unwillingness to share the pain of overcoming this crisis”:
Guild members haven’t seen a pay raise in four years. And they are well prepared to take a pay cut to help preserve the Globe and its mission. Management, on the other hand, received healthy bonus payments in February 2009–just weeks before New York threatened to shut down the Globe.
Indeed, while this entire process began with one threat, the Times Company now hopes to finish things with another–the prospect of an immediate 23-percent pay cut.
The company’s best offer to Guild members effectively cuts pay 10.3 percent forever. Management, however, will endure a 5 percent pay cut only through December 31. Guild members have been preparing for significant pension and retirement plan cuts, including an end to any 401k match. Unbelievably, the Times Company has actually boosted the matching contribution for management 401k plans by 66 percent.
Totten goes on to say that even “under tremendous financial pressure, there are good examples being set elsewhere,” citing Gatehouse Media New England–“which owns 100 community newspapers in Massachusetts”–where “senior managers will shoulder the largest pay cuts (up to 15 percent)” and the Boston Phoenix owners who “also reserved the biggest hits for top management in a recent round of costcutting.” Totten notes that “that’s one way to cope with such a challenge–sharing the pain and being a true partner with workers. It’s just not the Times Company‘s way.”