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Boston Globe staff shocked by scale of cuts

NEW YORK - Staff at the Boston Globe have been shocked by the scale of the cuts demanded by owner The New York Times Company.

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Read Gordon's Republic blog post - Tales of US newspaper gloom: Phoenix, Detroit and Boston

At the end of last week The New York Times Company threatened to close The Boston Globe in 30 days unless its unions agree to $20m in dramatic cost savings.

Yesterday staff at the Boston Globe were given details of the pay and benefit cuts and the lost job security being called for, according to a report in The New York Times.

Daniel Totten, president of the Guild representing 700 Globe staff, said the demands were outrageous.

"We're willing to consider some concessions but not the draconian amount they put forth," he said.

Guild members have been informed that they will have to account for half of the company's planned $10m savings, which will include pay cuts, cuts in healthcare benefits and the end of final salary pensions.

The New York Times said that its owner was also calling for the more freedom to make future job cuts and the power to "dismiss employees without regard to seniority order and to abolish the lifetime job guarantees held by 430 Globe employees".

The New York Times Company bought the Boston Globe for $1.1bn in 1993 and added to its investment in the city with a 17% stake in the Boston Red Sox and their ball park at Fenway.

At the time the paper was profitable but that is no longer the case. Last year the paper lost $50m and this year it is expected to lose around $85m.

The losses at the paper come against a background of the pincer of falling ad revenues and sales.

Since 1990 the Boston Globe's circulation has fallen by 37.86%. Last year it had a weekday circulation of around 324,000 down from around 450,000.

The outcry about the fate of the Boston Globe is being felt acrossthe city, reflecting the high esteem in which it is held.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told Fortune: "The Globe helped build our city. The Globe holds people accountable on the issues, and that's important. You might not like it sometimes. Sometimes we don't agree. But they ask tough questions and back it up with data, real data. That's what's important. They're out there doing their work. It would be a real travesty if they weren't around."

It is worth noting that the New York Times itself is not immune from cuts and in March it axed 100 jobs and imposed 5% pay cut.

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