In the scathing criticism circulated to the press, Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara stated: "Time Inc.’s proposal to hollow out its own company is simply not acceptable. 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.”
Most of the jobs affected would probably come from titles including Time, People, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.
According to the union, management presented the proposal as part of a “last, best and final offer,” and warned that if Guild members rejected it, they would consider negotiations deadlocked. The Guild denies that they have reached an impasse, but also accuses management of not negotiating in good faith. To date, the two sides have met some 25 times over an 18-month period.
The union plans to put its money where its mouth is with legal action, according to O’Meara: “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.”
Previously, Time Inc. disclosed that it was considering “global sourcing of staff” in an August 5 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The union claims that Time Inc.’s management is also seeking to end healthcare benefits for retirees.
Rumors were already flying about Time Inc.’s plans to reorganize its editorial operations. Last month, Gawker published a leaked spreadsheet for ranking editorial staff at Sports Illustrated that included eight criteria, one of which was “produces content… beneficial to advertiser relationship,” raising the possibility that their editorial integrity is under threat.
Time Inc.’s official reply was as follows: “The Guild’s interpretation is misleading and takes one category out of context. The SI.com evaluation was conducted in response to the Guild’s requirement for our rationale for seniority layoffs. As such, it encompasses all of the natural considerations for digital media. It starts and ends with journalistic expertise, while including reach across all platforms and appeal to the marketplace. SI’s editorial content is uncompromised and speaks for itself.”