News & Events

Two major Globe unions OK contracts (MS)

Members of two of The Boston Globe’s major unions last night narrowly ratified contracts that will cut their pay and benefits by more than $7 million, bringing the Globe’s owner closer to achieving the savings it says it needs to keep operating the paper.

Pressmen’s union president Martin Callaghan said operators approved $2.2 million in concessions by a "narrow vote."


The owner, The New York Times Co., last month threatened to shutter the money-losing newspaper unless the Globe’s unions agreed to a total of $20 million in concessions, and major contract changes such as the weakening or elimination of lifetime job guarantees for more than 400 workers. The Globe is projected to lose $85 million this year without significant cost savings.

Members of Teamsters Local 1, which represents about 250 full- and part-time mailers, voted 107 to 95 to approve $5 million in concessions, said Mary White, the union’s president. Boston Newspaper Printing Pressmen’s Union Local 3, which represents about 90 press operators, approved $2.2 million in concessions by a "narrow vote" after an angry meeting, said union president Martin Callaghan, who declined to release the vote totals or terms of the contract.

The press operators only several months ago ratified a contract in which they gave $8.5 million in concessions.

"There was just a lot of anger in the room," Callaghan said. But "they felt as though the Globe had a big gun with the shutdown threat and was prepared to use it."

The concessions approved by the mailers, who insert advertising and editorial materials into the paper and prepare it for delivery, include a 5 per cent pay cut, pension freeze, deep reduction in overtime, and the weakening of lifetime job guarantees held by about 145 full-time mailers, said White. The contract also offers to mailers with the guarantee a $40,000 per person buyout, which can be taken as cash, healthcare benefits, or a combination, said White.

"It was scary seeing how close it was. It was intense," White said. "I truly believe it’s going to help the Globe. That’s the whole purpose of this. I think this will be instrumental in helping the Globe survive."

In a statement, Globe spokesman Robert Powers said management "deeply appreciates the sacrifices that both the pressmen and the mailers have agreed to make as part of our effort to restructure and strengthen The Boston Globe."

More than the two contracts were at stake last night. If either union rejected the contract, it could undermine ratification of concessions by other unions. The proposals negotiated by union and management officials earlier this month allowed some of the unions to opt out of their contracts if another union rejected the concessions, according to Globe officials.

The idea was to prevent one union from taking the cuts while others didn’t, Globe officials said.

Members of Teamsters Local 259, which represents more than 200 delivery truck drivers, will vote June 7 on $2.5 million in wage and benefit cuts. The Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper’s biggest union, votes June 8 on $10 million in concessions. The Guild represents editorial, advertising, and business office workers.

The union representing about 30 electricians at the paper ratified concessions on May 11. Globe officials declined to disclose terms. Union officials couldn’t be reached yesterday.

Two other small unions, representing machinists and technical support workers, have not yet ratified their contracts.

Robert Gavin can be reached at