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New York Times guild resume talks with management over contract

By Armando Tamayo     Sep 12, 2012 in Politics
The New York Times union resumed talks with management early this week to briefly end the stalemate between the two parties over the union's contract.
Union members of the Manhattan based newspaper have called the arrangement offered as "disrespect". The New York Times management has already proposed new terms to the union members regarding the potential deal.
The management and New York Times guild have been in talks for more than a year, where negotiations have dragged over since the contract expired in March 2011.
Observers of the dispute see a breakthrough resolution over the deadlock, though Benchmark Co. media analyst Edward Atorino has said that “It could get nasty. There could be a strike”, as quoted in a report for the Observer.
The strain over the new contract have gone public when hundreds of New York Time staffers made an open letter to address their "profound dismay" with the management's plan to call off the member's independent health insurance and also to freeze all their pension plans.
Staff members feel the company have somewhat "disconnected" with the union, where the management wanted to dispose of the pension when the company actually have a substantial amount of capital estimated at around $800 million. The Times management have sold several notable assets in the past year that includes stakes in their regional newspaper division, the About.com site and the Boston Red Sox.
The senior vice president of labor Terry Hayes have proposed details of the contract in March, where it allows the members to keep the health care plan, a 1% raise and 1% bonus on the second year and plans to increase the work week to forty hours (from thirty five).
Hayes have already said that the major issue of the dispute will be the pension plans stressing the need for cost cutting measures, as quoted in The Huffington Post, "No business can face a decline of this magnitude without taking steps to bring its costs into line with the smaller revenues."
At the end of 2011, New York Times management incurred around $522 million of pension to its members. The reasoning of market observers of the talks have always been that newspaper companies need to restructure their staff retirement benefits, by giving 401Ks instead of the pensions.
Other industry experts have said that the New York Times can still afford to let the pension plans survive and to keep on paying the pension liabilities, since they still sit on significant amount of assets
The union have posted a series of YouTube videos in a channel titled "Save our Times" to detail their talking points with the management, which includes "a unified contract (instead of separate), guaranteed pension, significant pay raises and profit sharing and bonuses."
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