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Boston Globe staff ready to reject cost saving deal

NEW YORK - It is a crunch day for US newspapers as Boston Globe could today reject swingeing pay cuts as part of a $20m cost cutting plan.

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As the Boston Globe journalists prepare to vote tonight, The New York Times reports there are signs they could reject a deal which calls for their pay to be cut by 23% at the paper -- on course to lose $85m this year having lost $50m last year.

The vote comes two months after owner The New York Times Company said it would close the Boston Globe unless the union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, agreed to painful cuts.

The New York Times Company, which has since eased up on its doomsday paper closing talk, has already settled with the six other unions at the Globe.

This has delivered $10m in savings, but is demanding $10m more from the Newspaper Guild and its 600 members.

Ahead of the vote Boston Globe staff voiced anger and frustration at the way the New York Times Company has acted.

Scott Allen, a Boston Globe reporter said staff did not feel that the company tried very hard to make the concessions more palatable or equitable.

Allen said: "I'm voting no. Even people who you would think can't afford to put their mortgages at risk are voting no."

Last week, Steven Ainsley, the Boston Globe publisher sent a memo to staff reiterating the 23%. He was accused by the Guild of bad management and bullying.

Catherine Mathis, senior vice president of corporate communications for The New York Times Company, said: "Unfortunately, the guild seems to believe it can reject the contract, prevent implementation and thereby force further negotiation.

"That's not right. Time is of the essence."

The decline in ad revenues at the Boston Globe has been particularly sharp, down by more than 30 while weekday circulation of 302,638 is down 33% in five years.

The vote of the Guild follows that of yesterday's approval by delivery truck drivers of $2.5m in wage and benefit cuts.

The approval by the Teamsters means that six of the Globe's smaller unions have all backed cuts.

Guild president Daniel Totten gave no predictions on the outcome of the vote, but he made his feelings clear: "We're in a situation that began with threats and continues with threats."

Erin Ailworth, a 28-year-old reporter, said she will vote for the contract even though it will take her pay back to what it was five years ago when she worked at the Orlando Sentinel.

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