Close on the heels of the announcement that longtime CEO Janet Robinson is retiring at the end of the year, the New York Times Co. is seeking to reopen contract negotiations with representatives from the Newspaper Guild, beginning sometime in January, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.
The Guild, which represents roughly 1,100 NYTCO employees, previously met with company execs for contract negotiations in June of this year, but many issues remain unresolved, according to union reps cited by Bloomberg.
NYTCO is planning a pension freeze for most workers, even as it also plans to pay Robinson a generous severance package, which may be a big point of contention when negotiations are reopened. She will receive a nearly $15 million severance, which includes a $4.5 million consulting fee and $10.9 million in benefits. Jim Romenesko writes on his blog that the Newspaper Guild of New York, which represents more than a 1,000 Times employees, is seeing red.
Like other major newspaper publishers, NYTCO has sought to set its finances on a firmer footing amid an economic downturn and the medium’s secular decline by freezing benefits, raises, and new hiring. This has helped contain costs, but the company continues to face a difficult advertising environment, forcing it to consider selling some properties.
Earlier this week, NYTCO announced that it has sold its Regional Media Group, consisting of 16 local newspapers in Southern states and California, to Halifax Media Holdings for $143 million, which should boost the company’s bottom line, as well as reducing operating costs and pension liabilities.
In proportional terms, the Regional Media Group was one of the company’s biggest losers in revenue declines in the first nine months of the year, and at the end of last year NYTCO warned that it was a candidate for write-downs and impairment.
NYTCO has also said it would consider selling its New England Media Group, centered on The Boston Globe. Separately, in July, the NYTCO sold over half its stake in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, the prestigious Fenway Park venue and associated cable TV properties.
Total revenues at NYTCO declined 27.4% from $3.29 billion in 2006 to $2.39 billion in 2010. More recently, revenues declined 3% from $1.73 billion in the first nine months of 2010 to $1.68 billion.