Globe negotiations: six unions down, one to go--updated!

So says a new statement from Globe spokesman Bob Powers. The Boston Newspaper Guild is the lone holdout; Powers' statement seems to confirm that job-security issues are the big obstacles:

We are very pleased to have reached agreements with six of the seven unions that were involved in recent negotiations. This includes agreements with the drivers, mailers, pressmen, the electricians, machinists, and technical services group. As a result of these agreements, which are subject to ratification by union members, we expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility and the financial savings that we sought from these unions. We are not, therefore, making a filing today under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. We appreciate the productive and cooperative approach demonstrated by the leadership of these unions throughout these difficult negotiations.

We are disappointed, however, that we have not yet been able to reach an agreement with the Guild. Because of that, we are evaluating our alternatives under both the Guild contract and applicable law to achieve as quickly as possible the workplace flexibility and remaining cost savings we need to help put The Globe on a sound financial footing.

UPDATE: Management's reference to a new search for alternatives "under both the Guild contract and applicable law" is particularly interesting. While I don't know what they have in mind, I'm guessing that--among other things--management will see if the Globe's fiscal woes, coupled with the current impasse, could justify circumventing those much-discussed lifetime job guarantees.

The Guild's contract indicates that this would be possible. Here's the relevant section:

In the event of a dramatic and apparently irreversible downturn in the Globe's business, placing in jeopardy the continued existence or survival of the Globe, the parties will meet to discuss what reductions, if any, are necessary to this no-layoff list. During the discussion period, the Employer will provide to the Union a 'top-line' summary of its current financial condition and its market and economic projections upon which it bases its need to request the reduction. These discussions, which will not exceed thirty (30) days, may include consideration of possible alternatives proposed by the Union to reduce labor costs other than through reductions to the no-layoff list. If the parties cannot reach agreement, it will be subject to binding arbitration for resolution, and the arbitrator will not be strictly bound by the no-layoff provisions of this Supplemental Agreement and will be empowered to make equitable adjustments as appropriate. The arbitrator shall also be empowered to require the Globe to submit its financial records to an independent accounting firm (limited to one of the 'Big Six' that has not been retained in an auditing function for the Globe in the last ten years) solely to verify the bona fides of the Globe's financial representations as provided to the Union.

 More to come, obviously.

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