Are the Henrys planning to sell Globe?

Union members fear that’s what bargaining stance means

IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS with the Boston Newspaper Guild, Boston Globe owners John and Linda Henry are apparently insisting on the removal of a provision in the existing contract that would keep the contract terms intact if the newspaper is sold.

Guild employees, who include reporters, copy editors, and business-side employees, have been working without a contract since December 31, 2018.

According to an email sent by Guild leadership to members of the union on Friday, one of the stumbling blocks in the contract negotiations is a so-called successors and assigns provision, which the Henrys have been trying to remove since December 2018. (An earlier version of the story said the date was December 2019, which was incorrectly provided in the email.)

Globe employees, according to a survey of Guild members by the union, are nervous the Henrys are pushing for removal of the successors and assigns provision because they intend to sell the newspaper.

“In the survey we are conducting, 85 percent of the more than 150 people who replied said they believe keeping this provision is ‘very important,’ with many of you sharing words of deep fear and worry about what it means the company has proposed taking this away,” the email said.

“As a result, there was an effort organized by your fellow members to ask the leadership committee, very respectfully, why the company’s on-the-record position is to remove this provision, and if it indicates – as many of you say you fear – that the Henrys are considering selling the Globe,” the email continues.

“We are disappointed the company chose not to answer the questions dozens of members submitted to today’s town hall, as their own employees try to make sense of management’s position on key issues and seek some reassurance in this deeply uncertain time.”

Arch Carpenter, the lead negotiator for the Boston Globe Media Co., declined comment on what he described as “ongoing off-the-record negotiations.”

A statement issued by the union said “we are not commenting on what was intended as an internal communication with our membership.” The email was provided to CommonWealth by a Globe employee who is not on the union’s leadership team.

In the email to its members, leaders of the Guild said the elimination of the successors and assigns provision was part of the company’s on-the-record contract proposal and therefore could be discussed with union members and raised in questions with management.

The survey conducted by the Guild included 14 questions asking union members how they felt about a number of issues, including severance cuts, 401K matching, and how layoffs should be handled. The union also asked its members whether a pay raise or job security was more important and asked them to rate a series of other contract issues in importance.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

The union’s leaders and Globe attorneys have declined to talk about ongoing negotiations throughout this year. Last summer, during a walkout, workers said management was proposing elimination of overtime for many employees as well as givebacks on seniority and severance payments.

Alan McDonald, an attorney with McDonald Lamond Canzoneri who is representing the union, said last summer that proposed cuts to severance payments were substantial, with most employees facing a 50 percent reduction.

He said the company is also proposing to do away with protections based on seniority in the case of layoffs. He said the Globe’s proposal would allow the company to “pick and choose” who is laid off.