Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Globe seeks pay cuts, Herald plans for layoffs

Boston’s two major daily newspapers are going through another round of painful cost-cutting measures.

Boston Globe unions have been asked by management to take an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut to help trim costs, while the newspaper also looks at consolidating its printing plants, according to several union members.

The Globe has just completed a round of buyouts that led to the departure of several high-profile staffers, and a top union official vowed yesterday to fight the proposed pay cut.

“The Boston Newspaper Guild has given enough in the name of company equity,” said Dan Totten, president of the Guild, the Globe’s largest union. “Globe and New York Times management must now give back.”

The Boston Herald officially announced plans yesterday to outsource its printing operations and lay off 130 to 160 press operators, electricians and other production-related workers later this year. Herald owner and publisher Patrick J. Purcell said there are no plans to cut newsroom staff.

Purcell said he told union leaders the job cuts and outsourcing were necessary because of the unreliable print quality of the newspaper’s 50-year-old presses.

“My personal goal has been, always, to keep Boston a two-newspaper town and the Boston Herald alive,” said Purcell in an interview after meeting with union chiefs.

About 10 unions would be affected by the Herald’s printing move, tentatively scheduled to start in late September or early October.

Purcell said he is in talks with News Corp. [NWS], owner of a plant in Chicopee where editions of the Wall Street Journal are printed, to handle printing the Herald six days a week. The Herald is in talks with Boston Offset, owner of a plant in Norwood where USA Today is printed, to print the Herald on Fridays. News Corp.’s Chicopee plant prints the Barron’s business publication on Friday nights.

Sources say Arthur Sulzberger Jr., head of the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, confirmed at a staff meeting this week in Boston that management has asked unions to reopen contracts to discuss wage cuts.

Boston Globe Executive Vice President Al Larkin Jr. said the company has asked for the wage cuts because of declines in advertising revenues.

“Like all newspapers, we are talking to our employees about the current economic climate,” Larkin said.