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Boston Globe reaches deal to stay open

THE Boston Globe and its largest employees union reached a tentative agreement early yesterday morning on concessions that will keep the 137-year-old newspaper publishing, the union president said.

The breakthrough came about 4am, said Dan Totten, president of the Newspaper Guild. He did not release details pending a meeting with Guild members scheduled for today.

"Out of respect for our members, the Guild and the New York Times Co have agreed not to release details until Guild leaders have a chance to meet with our members," Totten said.

Globe spokesman Robert Powers said in a statement that details would not be released until today. The Guild represents about 700 editorial, business and advertising staff.

The company had set a deadline of midnight Sunday to reach an agreement with its unions to make US$20 million in cuts or close the Boston Globe. The Times Co struck agreements with six of seven unions before the deadline, but even though talks with the Guild stalled, management backed off its threat to file a notice required by federal law to begin the process of shutting down the newspaper.

The two sides resumed talks on Tuesday evening at a location outside Boston.

The Globe had proposed to slash wages by 23 percent to gain concessions of US$10 million and keep the newspaper from closing.

The Guild has offered a 3.5-percent pay cut, plus three unpaid furlough days, for a total salary reduction of just under 5 percent. It said its offer represents more than the US$10 million in concessions sought.

The Times Co also sought to change its lifetime job guarantees, a key sticking point. At least one of the smaller unions agreed to changes in the guarantees for its members, but Totten called ending that job protection a "nonstarter."

Nearly 470 employees across six unions have the guarantees, including about 190 Newspaper Guild members. Most got the promises in a contract ratified in 1994, shortly after the Times Co bought the Globe for US$1.1 billion, in exchange for other concessions at the time. Workers can still be fired for cause, but the newspaper says the guarantees reduce its ability to pare its operational structure.


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