Boston Globe to be closed unless unions agree $20m cost savings

NEW YORK - The New York Times Company has threatened to close The Boston Globe in 30 days unless its unions agree to $20m in dramatic cost savings.

New York Times executives met with leaders of the Globe's 13 unions last week, which represent about 1,300 employees, to draw out plans for immediate concessions.

Unions have been told they must agree to $20m in cost reductions, which could include salary cuts, the loss of pension contributions and the end of job guarantees for certain employees, or the Globe will shut in a matter of weeks.

The Globe, for which the New York Times Company paid $1.1bn in 1993, reportedly lost $50m last year due to falling advertising revenue and is expected to lose a further $85m in 2009.

The parent company also has its back against the wall, posting a net loss of $58m last year with a scheduled $400m loan repayment due next month.

On top of 5% pay cuts for non-unionised employees announced last week, which also affect the Globe, the company has made a series of moves to shore up its finances.

It recently agreed to sell and lease back its brand new Manhattan headquarters, suspended its dividend payouts scheme, agreed to a high-rate $250m convertible loan from Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim and is currently looking to sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

The Globe, which has published since 1872, remained a respected and profitable newspaper throughout the 1990s, winning eight Pulitzer Prizes under New York Times ownership.

It is the region's most widely read newspaper, with a daily circulation of more than 350,000 after an 8% drop in 2008.

However, since 2000, the company has been forced to shed more than 500 jobs and shut down its international bureaux.

Analysts said that the Globe is unlikely to close its doors and unions leaders will probably agree to the concessions, which could cost unionised employees more than $15,000 each.

The NYT Company is meeting with individual union leaders throughout the week to lay out specific plans for the cost cuts, starting with the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents about 700 editorial and advertising staff.