Workers represented by the Boston Newspaper Guild rejected the offer of the New York Times parent company. This offer would have slashed job guarantees and cut wages by more than 10%. After the workers’ brave stand against concessions, the Globe announced 23% wage cuts immediately coming into effect. This is not only against the contract with the union, it is also against the law.
That’s right. The millionaire executives at the New York Times Company and the Boston Globe are breaking the law in order to inflict hardships on their workers. For their crimes, these rich bureaucrats won’t see the inside of a jail cell. When working people break the law, we often face a lifetime of penalties. Still, the Globe will continue to punish workers for standing up and fighting for themselves, for trying to help their families and for defending the future of working people in Boston.
The ruling elites in this country care about profits, not about our livelihoods. Many workers now face the possibility of layoffs. The bosses will try to force concessions on wages and benefits by holding layoffs over our heads. Concessions don’t stop layoffs. Struggle does. The autoworkers negotiated concessions for decades; they got mass layoffs. If we don’t fight back, then we know we’ll lose. If we fight back, then we might win.
The print media is clearly not as popular as it once was. Since the rich and powerful only care about profits, they’re fine to see the Globe shut down. On the other hand, socialists want full employment and living wage jobs. If the Globe is no longer profitable, then the machinery should be taken into public ownership in order to save jobs and re-tooled to produce more socially necessary products.
Globe workers outside the Guild and workers in general have been told that the Guild represented the privileged and that the workers should be willing to sacrifice. The real privileged people are the big stockholders and executives who are trying to force a race to the bottom in wages and conditions. The fight of the Guild is a fight for all of us, the unions should link up in a campaign to stop layoffs and concessions with mass demonstrations, strikes and acts of solidarity across professions and industries.
Jeanne Shimkus, a Globe employee for 39 years, explains, I think down the road, for our children and grandchildren we have to make a stand. They can’t just keep getting millions in bonuses while they take away our dignity.
It is through unions that workers are organized in common interests, gaining better wages and benefits, and now more than ever protecting what gains were made in the past. The current trend for big business is to find ways of getting around unions or breaking them down. One of the main ways that unions are being weakened is through the creation of divisions, or tiers, separating workers into different levels of wages and benefits. With the deterioration of the lifetime job guarantee the bosses can begin to transform the workforce to younger, newer workers with lower wages and fewer protections. The bosses want to be able to fire and hire to meet their ends, profits profits profits, with no regard for the damage done to the workers.
What can be done? The vote against the concessions was a narrow vote, 277 to 265. The workers that are against the attacks from big business need our support and solidarity.
Union leaders need to begin a campaign to against layoffs and concessions, organizing mass demonstrations. The Boston Globe is one of the biggest newspapers in the New England area and has a national audience; the story of the fight at the Globe has made international newsreels. There could be a massive outreach for support and solidarity to put pressure on the New York Times Company to rescind these cuts that wouldn’t heal.
The Boston Newspaper Guild should link up with the other unions at the Globe to demand and end to the illegal threats and attacks from management. No worker should be left without a job. If a company is not profitable, it should be taken into public ownership and the compensation for executives and shareholders should only be granted on the basis of need. All workers at the Globe should have guaranteed jobs and re-training for socially necessary services.
While posing as a liberal and progressive-run paper, the Bosses’ Glob is really a rag that puts forward the views of the elite, albeit more skillfully than the more openly right-wing Boston Herald. The Globe’s editorials are actually more consistently anti-union than the Herald when a struggle breaks out. If the Globe was taken into public ownership in order to save jobs, then the unions and community groups should have a say in what goes into print. Boards should be formed of readers, writers and workers, not just bureaucrats and rich mouthpieces to decide on the future of the newspaper.
A movement for jobs in Boston can be built. Layoffs lead to increases in crime and social isolation in our communities. Layoffs hurt local small businesses as well as the workers and their families who are directly affected. There is the potential for a trade union led coalition in Boston demanding full employment and living wage jobs. In order to win this fight, we couldn’t stop at the Globe, we would need to be willing to use whatever methods necessary to win victories: from petitioning to strikes, from demonstrations to direct action, from protests to the independent political action of working class candidates running against both parties.
The executives at the Globe and the Times have showed that they’re willing to break the law to hurt working class people. The labor movement was once against the law, but workers broke the law to win union recognition. The civil rights movement was once against the law, but it broke the law to end segregation. More recently, it was illegal for the workers at Chicago Windows and Doors to break the law when they occupied their factory to get a severance package. However, those workers couldn’t all be arrested because of their bravery and because of the community support that they had. We need to learn those lessons in order to save the jobs at the Globe and beyond.