Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And Now For Some Boston Globe Bashing

After months of grueling, contentious negotiations with the Boston Globe's parent company, the New York Times, the Boston Newspaper Guild agreed to huge pay cuts designed to save $10 million for the struggling regional newspaper in an industry in a death spiral.

How does the ownership of the New York Times express solidarity with their union members? By rewarding themselves with massive pay raises!

Top executives at the beleaguered New York Times Company reaped hefty rewards last year, with Chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger more than doubling his total compensation to $6 million.

CEO Janet Robinson got even more, reaping $6.3 million, a 31.9 percent hike.

The pay numbers were disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings yesterday.

The increases come against a backdrop of declining ad revenue, layoffs, frozen pension plans, unpaid vacations and a 5 percent pay cut for most of the rank-and-file workers last year.
Reaction to the executive compensation restructuring was wholly supportive:

"Our members are really unhappy with what is happening," said Bill O'Meara, master of the understatement president of the Newspaper Guild of New York. "They made a voluntary sacrifice to give up some of their pay to help the company out. People are losing their jobs still."

One corporate governance expert warned that even if a publicly traded company's compensation committee OK'd the compensation, it could backfire in the court of public opinion.

"I think the board may want to weigh the consequences of rewarding their executives, who may be worthy of the increases, against the damage that may occur to the company's reputation," said William Sannwald, a business professor at San Diego State University.

Michael Golden, a first cousin of Pinch's who is vice chairman and chief operating officer of the Times' Regional Media Group, took home $2.4 million in total compensation last year, up 71 percent. CFO Jim Folo received a 20 percent boost, earning $1.3 million.
In other words, 60 percent of the monetary concessions made by the Boston Newspaper Guild went into the pockets of three New York Times executives. It's worth remembering this the next time the Boston Globe / New Your Times editorial writers sanctimoniously lecture you about the virtues of unions while their ownership is simultaneously pissing on their own unions...


Aaron Bennett said...

Nice anti-union shot there. Not necessary.

Do you think if the Globe were not unionized that somehow the Times company would decide not to be a bunch of greedy scumbags?

Unions were created to protect people from greedy scumbags like them. Things would be a lot worse for the Globe employees without their union.

Enjoy your weekend, by the way. And when you do, thank the unions.

Roger Bournival said...

Actually, Aaron, I think you misread something, or everything. The point of the post was to show the rank hypocrisy of ownership screwing the union vs. the editorial staff's (normally) staunch advocacy of unions.

What did I say that was anti-union, other than to write about how one union got screwed by Pinchy & company?

Aaron Bennett said...

"It's worth remembering this the next time the Boston Globe / New Your Times editorial writers sanctimoniously lecture you about the virtues of unions while their ownership is simultaneously pissing on their own unions..."

I must have misread that as an shot at unions -- my bad.

Monkeesfan said...

Aaron Bennett assumes that things would be a lot worse for the Globe employees without their union - never mind that there has never been any evidence in any industry of such an outcome. Given that unions' greatest success - and raise d'etre - is wage inflation, there is no reason to assume that Globe employees would be worse off without their union - heck, chances are the Globe could have made adjustments to save the company without the union getting in the way.
Unions were not created to protect workers - they were created to inflate wages. As such they violate the realities of the market. And people wonder why the economy always suffers when union power increases.

Aaron Bennett said...

No, monkeesfan, besides your horrible taste in music you lack any understanding of labor history. Unions were formed to prevent factories from:

-firing workers who get hurt on the job
-forcing them to shop at the factory store at inflated prices while paying them deflated wages
-bussing in other people willing to work cheaper
-forcing them to work 16 hours a day with no overtime

Do you enjoy your weekends off? Like getting paid holidays? Worker's Compensation insurance?

Say thank you, labor unions.

Paul said...

"Say thank you, labor unions."

Thanks 1940's and 1950's labor Unions.

Today's labor unions are greedy and corrupt. Why do you think most of the manufacturing jobs have moved out of this country or shut down all together?

Aaron Bennett said...

Has to be the labor unions fault. Couldn't be the fact that Nike would rather pay $0.25 per hour to make $150 sneakers in Vietnam then pay $11 an hour in Brockton. Do you want to make sneakers for $0.25 an hour? Then don't complain about the lack of manufacturing jobs. Because in a non-union world, manufacturing jobs suck. If Nike needs to make $140 worth of profit of a pair of sneakers, then there won't be any manufacturing jobs that Americans want to work at. Must be the unions fault for demanding more then $0.25 an hour.

Paul said...

"Must be the unions fault for demanding more then $0.25 an hour."

If $0.25 an hour is too low, nobody would work there. If someone wants to work for that wage, more power to them. Having a job is not a right and of you don't like what you're making work somewhere else.

Aaron Bennett said...

or organize with your friends and make them pay you more, form a middle class and make america great.

Monkeesfan said...

Aaron Bennett is wrong. The market mandated all the benefits that unions take credit for. The demand for capable workers requires companies to make those workers want to work for them - that's what competition is. Unions did not bring about weekends off; market reality did that. Unions like to take credit for things that the market did; the only thing unions can take credit for is wage inflation, and that's not a credit to take. Aaron Bennett is the one in need of studying labor history.

objectivebruce said...

Well played, Aaron Bennett.

The idea that American corporations sending work to overseas sweatshops means American unions are bad is a bit of illogical mythology.

It is amazing how many people buy the nonsense that equates union-busting with "freedom."

So thanks to the unions, for the benefits cited and more.

The free market brought about none of it. Non-union shops offered benefits for one reason and one reason alone: Because unions fought for them in other places, and to keep the unions out, and keep on treating people as fungible goods, they had to throw the employees a bone and keep them from organizing.

Unions are not just about wages and benefits, it is about the right to negotiate over anything involving wages, hours and working conditions -- and absent special qualifications, no individual can negotiate much of anything standing alone. A trades union will pull its workers off a job if conditions are not safe; try walking out as an individual when you fear injury or worse on the job. They'll fire you.

Free markets do not convey meaningful bargaining power on the overwhelming majority of individual employees. They never have; they never will.