Frustrated Globe union to protest at Fenway
MLB players union backing newspaper guild efforts
THE UNION REPRESENTING Boston Globe editorial workers, which has accused management of employing “hardball” union-busting tactics, is coming inside with a high hard one of its own.
Members of the Globe union are taking a contract battle to owner John Henry’s other marquee property with a protest Sunday outside Fenway Park. The protest coincides with support from fellow Henry employees who will be at work Sunday afternoon inside the ballpark, as the Major League Baseball Players Association is speaking out on the newspaper workers’ behalf.
The socially distant “#FairnessAtFenway” rally is planned to demand a fair agreement for the nearly 300 employees in the Boston Newspaper Guild who have been without a contract for 19 months.
The union says it chose Fenway because it wants to “let John and Linda Henry know Boston is watching. The union representing Red Sox players is now also apparently watching.
The union representing National Football League players is also voicing support for the Globe workers.
“We support the members of the @BostonNewsGuild who exist for the sole reason of telling important and true stories that make our country stronger and better by holding those in power accountable,” DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the over 11,000 member NFL Players Association, tweeted.
Billionaire Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Globe in 2013 for $70 million from the New York Times.
In a statement, the newspaper guild leadership says that management has “draconian proposals to remove important provisions” that keep reporters and other employees on the job and protect the organization’s “editorial integrity.”
One management proposal, reported by CommonWealth in late May, involves “mandating that if a new owner buys the Globe, the contract no longer protects its workers — putting the newspaper’s future at risk,“ according to the statement. The prior contract would keep contract terms in place if the newspaper is ever sold. The Henrys have been trying to remove that clause since December 2018.
A March survey of employees by the union found that 85 percent of 150 members believe keeping the provision in is very important to assuage fears of what it would mean if the company was sold.
Linda Henry, John Henry’s wife and the paper’s managing director, told media critic Dan Kennedy through email that “the Globe is not for sale,” according a blog post.
Workers said management is proposing elimination of overtime for many employees as well as givebacks on seniority, severance payments, and won’t budge on its unused vacation days policy. A previous proposal by management offering a 2 percent wage increase has been taken off the table, employees said. They also think the current proposal empowers management to outsource newsroom jobs, something that has become commonplace as newsrooms get smaller.
The union says that during the coronavirus pandemic, the hard work of employees has led to tens out thousands of new digital subscribers and new revenue in recent months, but the company remains engaged in a “hardball campaign of union-busting.”
Globe reporter Victoria McGrane, a union representative, declined to comment on new developments on the contact fight, but said, “We are fighting for basic protections for our members and a collective bargaining agreement that will make our relationship with managers fair.“
Negotiators on both sides have declined to comment on ongoing talks. 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.
Sunday’s protest, which union leaders emphasize will honor social distancing recommendations, will be held at the intersection of Van Ness and Ipswich streets, as the Red Sox prepare to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:35 pm. No fans are being allowed into Major League Baseball games, but on home game days, area sports bars teem with fans.