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Monday, May 4, 2009

The NY Times vs. the unions

The New York Times, owner of the Boston Globe, and the Globe's largest worker's union suspended all night contract talks this morning, unable to reach agreement.

NY Times chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger stated last month that "the Globe's costs and revenues have to be brought more into alignment."

The Times Company has threatened to close the Globe unless the unions agree to $20 million in concessions. The Boston Newspaper Guild, the largest union, called this a "bullying tactic."

Strange. The Times is all for the unions in Detroit. In fact just this past weekend they ran an editorial in the business section suggesting the hedge funds which own Chrysler bonds stop whining and accept the government-backed deal, which would give the UAW 55% ownership in a new Chrysler Corporation -- at their expense. This, by the way, is a heretofore unheard of arrangement. In previous bankruptcies the bondholders would gain control, as they have first call on the assets of a company unable to pay the interest or principle on its debt. This time around, in a deal brokered by Obama's Treasury Department, the bondholders would simply cede ownership to the unions. (Granted, this picture is more complicated by the fact that the government has also put money into the Chrysler.)

Obama, of course, won the election with the backing of the UAW and other major unions, to which he is beholden.

The New York Times, of course, is a charter member of the Obama Cheerleading Squad, and has backed him in virtually every one of his stances, including his unilateral support of the unions.

But when it comes to their own self interest, The Times sees the necessity of bringing "the Globe's costs and revenues into alignment." This of course is a euphemistic way of saying that the the Newspaper Guild is a bug to be squashed.

But wasn't that precisely the problem in Detroit? That the car companies were paying out too much in benefits given how little revenue the cars were bringing in?

There is something inherently, perfectly, deliciously gratifying about watching the NY Times battle its own unions.

Maybe the solution is for the NY Times to just hand over a 55% ownership stake to the Newspaper Guild.

It was good enough for the hedge funds. Why not the Times?


Anonymous said...

Excellent observation, I will remember it for conversations with my leftist friends.... Ed

John Craig said...

Thanks Ed -- please let me know how they respond.