The Newspaper Guild is throwing in the towel on Time Inc.’s final offer after months of fruitless negotiations with the publishing company over a contract that could impact roughly 200 newsroom employees, who are Guild members.
The Guild, which represents more than 2,800 journalists and other employees in the New York-area, told WWD that it would likely file unfair labor practices charges with the New York Labor Relation’s Board against Time Inc. next week.
Time Inc., which spun off from Time Warner in June, had been in talks with the Guild for between 18 and 20 months. Negotiations broke down Wednesday after the two sides hit an impasse. The reason for that, according to the Guild, was Time Inc. delivered a “last, best, and final” offer that would allow it to send “dozens of editorial jobs overseas, further consolidate editorial functions across its magazines and end healthcare benefits for retirees.”
“Time Inc.’s proposal to hollow out its own company is simply not acceptable,” said Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara. “Management wants the ability to send 160 editorial jobs overseas, which would be a massive blow to some of the nation’s most important and respected magazines. Many of Time Inc.’s proposals are not only outrageous, we believe they’re illegal. We are filing charges over these labor law violations to force management to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith.”
But Time Inc. said The Guild has not responded to a letter it sent from its lawyers expressing “disappointment” over the Guild’s rejection of its final offer.
“It’s essential for Time Inc. that any agreement with the Newspaper Guild recognizes the new realities of the media industry, which has changed dramatically and continues to rapidly evolve,” Time Inc. said. “Unfortunately, despite months of hard work and good faith negotiations by the company, we have been unable to reach an agreement with the Guild’s leadership and have declared an impasse. The challenges facing our industry require a transformation in the way we approach our business. We must have the flexibility necessary to position ourselves for growth and success — not just for the 200 members of the Guild, but for all Time Inc. employees worldwide.”
Anthony Napoli, a Guild representative, said the organization is in the process of reviewing Time Inc.’s offer but that in the meantime, Guild members would have to work under the terms of Time Inc.
“Labor laws are all in favor of the employers,” he said, explaining that Time Inc. chief executive Joe Ripp has indicated that the company would “cut the fat” and outsource jobs.
He cited Time Inc.’s August filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission that references cost saving initiatives, including “content transformation,” which is “assessing” how Time Inc. “creates editorial products, and outsourcing.”
“We represent the photojournalists, the journalists, the copy editors, the people who produce the content and the journalism that they sell. They plan to do that on the cheap,” Napoli said. “The company says it wants to do good journalism, but everything they are doing at the bargaining table does not reflect that.”