Tags: Boston | Globe | wage | cuts

Boston Globe Vote Is Lesson in Unionism

By    |   Friday, 12 June 2009 09:40 AM

To most of us, it makes no sense that Boston Globe reporters would reject a pay cut of 8 percent when the newspaper has been losing $85 million a year and threatened to cut wages by 23 percent if its offer was not accepted.

That is especially true given that the newspaper industry is collapsing and the economy is in recession. Moreover, the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, threatened to close the paper if it could not slash costs enough.

But it made perfect sense to vote against the proposed wage cut to a majority of the members of the Globe editorial employees the Boston Newspaper Guild represents.

How can that be? I believe I can offer some insight, having been a member of the Boston Newspaper Guild when I was a Boston Herald reporter and later having been a member of newspaper unions at the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Union leaders use newsletters and meetings to create an “us-vs.-them” mentality. They portray management as greedy and corporate profits as evil. They rarely convey management’s arguments. They take it as a given that journalists are entitled to jobs, no matter what the financial condition of the newspaper.

Reflecting the Newspaper Guild’s mentality, Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh said after the vote, “What we’re seeing from the Times is not the fair-minded face of the editorial page, but a single-minded, hard-nosed focus on the bottom line. We were asked to do it [accept a wage cut] at gunpoint, and it got people’s backs up.”

After the Boston Globe declared an impasse and imposed a 23 percent wage cut, 130 members of the guild signed a petition to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Co. Calling Sulzberger a “mensch,” the petition pleaded with him to do “the right thing” and impose a less drastic pay so reporters could continue to pay their mortgages.

“We know . . . that you appreciate the work we do and how we have continued to publish hard-hitting, thoughtful papers throughout these hard times,” they wrote to Sulzberger, who rejected their plea and apparently is putting the paper up for sale.

But instead of reporting honestly, those hard-hitting stories have been slanted in one direction — against Republicans. When writing a profile of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for Newsmax magazine, I uncovered a story that tells a lot about the Globe’s coverage of him.

When Romney was at Bain Capital in 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of his partner Robert Gay sneaked away to attend a rave in New York and became high on ecstasy. Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was. Romney immediately closed down the firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to descend on New York to try to find her.

Romney hired a private detective firm and established an 800 number for tips, coordinating the effort with the police. He asked for help from everyone Bain did business with in New York.

The company’s law firm and accounting firm put up posters with a photo of the teenager. Cashiers at Duane Reade drugstores, owned by Bain Capital, stuffed fliers in the bag of each shopper. Romney and others from Bain Capital trudged through Central Park, talked with prostitutes and drug addicts, and took the girl’s photo into clubs at 3 a.m., pleading for leads.

The same day the Romney team came to New York, the hunt made the evening news. Local stations showed photos of the girl and shots of investment banker types prowling through Central Park. The next day, a teenage boy she was with phoned in, hoping for a reward. He quickly hung up, but police traced the call. When they found her in a basement in New Jersey, she was shivering through detox after a massive dose of ecstasy. Doctors told Gay that his daughter probably would not have lasted another day.

When I told that story to liberal friends in Boston, they were impressed by what it says about Romney’s character and amazed that they had not read anything about it in the Massachusetts media, even though Romney was their governor. Powerful as the story was, the Boston Globe and the rest of the Massachusetts media had ignored it. They could not bring themselves to report anything good about him. As outlined in the Newsmax story "Washington Post Has Become a Model for the Media," such dishonestly slanted coverage has helped erode the financial stability of the media.

What Boston Globe reporters don’t seem to get is that employers can’t make money if consumers don’t want to buy their product and can’t pay workers if they don’t make money. That simple lesson in how the free enterprise system works is one that many newspaper reporters and union members need to learn.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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To most of us, it makes no sense that Boston Globe reporters would reject a pay cut of 8 percent when the newspaper has been losing $85 million a year and threatened to cut wages by 23 percent if its offer was not accepted. That is especially true given that the newspaper...
Friday, 12 June 2009 09:40 AM
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