Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
It’s never a business or PR-savvy move to sound alarms about the death of the industry your company is a major part of, and then award executives of said company $12 mil in bonuses.
On March 26 the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Boston Globe‘s largest union, wrote a letter to New York Times co.’s Chairman Arthur Sulzberger and President Janet Robinson criticizing the executives’ taking of about $6 mil each in stock and bonus compensation amid a year of cutbacks, downsizing and threats that the Globe might shut down (or in the T&G’s case, might be sold off).
Last Friday, the T&G’s own Newspaper Guild (which Dan Kennedy of WGBH says is actually represented by Providence’s group rather than Boston’s) sent out its own letter, not so subtly reminding the company about the contract negotiations currently going on between the union and T&G management right now.
Here are the two letters sent out by the union, the first one providing context and the second addressing Sulzberger and Robinson (all this just two days before announcing that locally produced content on the T&G webiste will become pay-to-view):
Bob Datz 508 xxx xxxx
Lee Hammel 508 xxx xxxx
Worcester Unit Council
Local 31041 The Newspaper Guild
The letter below was sent April 23 to NY Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson by the Worcester (Mass.) unit of The Newspaper Guild, expressing frustration with the enormous pay raises they recived [sic]. A similar letter earlier went out from Globe employees, however our situation in Worcester is unique.
During the three years that contract negotiations with the Guild in Worcester have stretched out, the company has offered its employees of this particular profitable property no pay raise and numerous take-aways. (The day before union members were scheduled to ratify the letter, the company finally offered a minimal one-time signing bonus, which nets out to an enormous loss for employees when the entire package is considered.
We would appreciate if you would consider a story alerting your readers to the ironies inherent in NYTimes compensation vs. performance, as well as editorial insistence that others behave justly.
April 23, 2010
Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer
The New York Times Company
620 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Dear Arthur and Janet,
Many of us at the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester don’t pay a lot of
attention to high finance in New York. We have terrific jobs in the world’s best industry, and we are only too happy to concentrate on the business and politics and human drama that enliven Central Massachusetts day in and day out that we are privileged to gather and write and distribute.
But even the most focused of us could not help but notice the pay raises that both of you received for 2009. You have told us that our business is changing and times are difficult, and we have heard the same in contract negotiations over the past three years. We understand that we must change with the times in an environment where paid circulation and advertising revenue are falling. And management has told us that sacrifice is necessary.
So imagine our surprise upon learning the kind of “sacrifice” that you
are enduring. As President and Chief Executive Officer, you Janet, have been given a 31.8 percent increase in salary, bonus, and other compensation in a single year, bringing your total compensation to $6.3 million.
Arthur, as Board Chairman and Publisher of the New York Times, your total
compensation more than doubled in 2009, to $6 million. The $3.7 million
that your compensation increased could pay the salary of some 75 of the people that have been laid off by the company, some of whom we have been saddened to see walk out our own doors.
Meanwhile, The Newspaper Guild has been in negotiation with the management in Worcester, as our contract expired nearly three years ago. Fortunately, we are told, the Telegram & Gazette is not only not losing money, but continues to make money through this period, albeit at lower than customary levels.
Nevertheless we have been offered neither a pay raise nor bonus over a four-year period. In fact, the company proposes to slash real compensation
when benefits are considered. Management also wants to stop offering a pension to any new hires and to freeze the guaranteed pension of those of us who have one, in a “tradeoff” that the company should be well aware calculates to significant losses in projected retirement income.
While offering little or no financial incentive, the company wants to change contract language to remove the substantial equivalency of our medical coverage with no guarantees on the proportionate sharing of the premium costs. Finally, the company wishes to be allowed to lay off employees regardless of seniority.
This takes place in a backdrop of existing layoffs, buyouts and hiring freezes that have brought an 18 percent reduction of the company’s work force in 2009 alone. The employees remaining are asked, or forced, to reduce their benefits in the wake of a management decision to build a new skyscraper for the company headquarters. Our productivity subsidizes not only distant and ill-fated real estate transactions but deficits in units where employees are paid significantly better than we are, even with recent concessionary
We are thrilled to see the New York Times editorial pages seek fair treatment for people. Arthur and Janet, we ask that we, like you, receive some financial consideration for our efforts and that you recognize the increased work load we have taken on, because we, like you, have families who depend on us.
Members of The Newspaper Guild
Worcester Unit, Local 31041