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Labor day at the Globe

Hoping to draw attention to dragging negotiations and the Boston Globe’s "hard-line" bargaining tactics, the Boston Newspaper Guild is planning a public hearing and protest for Thursday, February 26. Though the negotiating teams have been meeting more frequently in recent weeks and compromising on minor issues, Guild president Steve Richards says, "the issues that cut right to the core of our union" remain unaddressed.

So on Thursday, first outside Globe headquarters and then at St. Christopher’s Church in Dorchester, union leaders and members will attempt to make their grievances heard. A 10-foot inflatable rat was rented for the last protest — "to symbolize the rats of corporate greed," says Richards, a copy editor on the Globe’s sports desk. While he isn’t sure whether the rat will make another appearance at Thursday’s demonstration, Richards hopes this rally will have a similar effect as the last one.

"We want to bring some stir and negative feedback to the Globe," he says. "We started to see a change in attitude at the table shortly after that rally. We’re hoping this meeting on Thursday will give a boost in that direction as well."

This Tuesday, negotiators from both sides met to continue the back-and-forth conversation that has lasted for more than two years. The most contentious issues on the bargaining table include Globe proposals that would allow the company to subcontract any non-editorial work and permit cross-selling of advertising (which would hurt ad sales reps at the Globe), a policy of layoffs not based on seniority (something Richards says goes against union principles), and skyrocketing health-insurance costs. "The Globe is holding our health insurance hostage," Richards said on the phone Monday, because company contributions to union health plans have remained steady while costs have increased exponentially.

The Guild’s 1200 members, who include editorial, advertising, maintenance, and security staff, have been without a contract for more than three years. While Globe spokesman BMaynard Scarborough did not respond to several calls asking about Thursday’s action, publisher Richard Gilman addressed the ongoing negotiations in his January "Memo from the Publisher," writing that his "primary disappointment about all that occurred in 2003 is that after three years we still don’t have a contract with the Guild." Globe management, he continued, is willing to sit at the table until agreements are complete.

With any luck, that date will be sooner rather than later. However, Richards said Guild leaders have begun discussing plans to protest at the Democratic National Convention, should negotiations last until July. "I hope we have a settlement by then," he said. "That will be a busy time for our members. But we want to be ready."

Issue Date: February 27 - March 4, 2004
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