June 12, 2009

An Instructive Episode at What Remains of the Boston Globe

BostonGlobeHQpic.jpgSome of us have speculated that many newsrooms in America are so hell-bent on maintaining their supposedly hallowed positions — and that by their way of “thinking” they are exempt from the normal laws of economics — that they will have be dragged kicking and screaming from their keyboards when the repo men come around to turn out the lights. This week’s events at the Boston Globe give validity to that theory.

Let’s take it on faith that the Globe, the onetime New England jewel of the New York Times, really has been losing money at the rate of $1 million a week, that the Times really does need to seriously cut costs, and that all of the Globe’s unions have to make concessions if the paper is to either survive within the Times, or as rumored, be salable to whatever outside entity might be brave enough to take it off the Old Gray Lady’s hands.

Six of the Globe’s seven(!) unions have agreed to accept concessions. They include “drivers, mailers, pressmen, electricians, machinists and technical-services workers.”

Which one do you think turned the Times down? Do you even have to ask?

Why, it’s the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents “more than 600 writers, editors and advertising and marketing staff members, as well as some administrative workers.” It appears they would rather maintain their incomes for only a short while longer and force the Times to close it instead of making the concessions everyone else has made to keep it viable.

Even though there is a report today that there may be parties interested in purchasing the Globe (or taking money from the Times to get it out of their hair), a Globe story yesterday reports that — surprise, surprise — it’s tougher to sell a paper that’s in the middle of what looks to be a protracted labor dispute:

The latest contract dispute between The New York Times Co. and The Boston Globe’s biggest union could drag on for several months, if not years, complicating the potential sale of the newspaper, according to legal and business analysts.

The Globe reported yesterday that the Times Co. is seeking bids on the newspaper it has owned since 1993, less than a day after the Boston Newspaper Guild filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The Guild is challenging the company’s decision to declare an impasse in negotiations and impose a 23 percent wage cut on the union’s members.

Globe spokesman Robert Powers said, “We’ve been in touch with the NLRB and are in the process of responding as appropriate.”

It gets better. Globe reporters’ beloved president and his party represent one of the hold-up points in eventually resolving any labor dispute involving potential government intervention:

In the best of circumstances, the process is slow as a charge moves through NLRB investigations, hearings, and appeals, then the federal court system, labor law specialists said. But the process could slow further because the five-member NLRB has three vacancies, and a federal Appeals Court in Washington recently ruled that two sitting members are not enough to make decisions.

The NLRB has petitioned the court to reconsider that decision. President Obama has named nominees for two of the vacancies. The nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.

But the prospect of a long labor dispute could make the paper less attractive to buyers, analysts said. If the case is eventually decided in favor of the Guild, a new owner could face a huge bill for back pay and interest, said Thomas Kohler, a Boston College law professor.

“Anybody who buys it, buys it with the liabilities,” Kohler said. “Unless the board and courts make fast decisions, there’s ongoing liabilities, and that makes the paper less attractive.”

If you’ve ever wondered why the news from so many establishment media outlets is often one-sidedly sympathetic with labor, antagonistic towards management, and dismissive of economic realities, you often need to look no further than the militance of the unions representing their writers and others involved.

Collectively, among the others involved in producing the paper, these guys and gals are supposed to be the smartest people in the room (just ask them). Even when faced with the death of their employer (there’s no guarantee that their will be buyer interest once the tires get kicked, and the Times’s threat to shutter the paper has to be taken seriously), they concede nothing. Why should we surprised that they almost never concede their errors, omissions, and blatant biases, even when caught red-handed?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘California Considers Ditching Welfare’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:38 am

CaliforniaBankrupt2009.jpgIt’s here.

It will go up Sunday morning here at BizzyBlog (Link won’t work until then) when the blackout expires.

(image is from OrangeJuiceBlog.com)

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Backstory: I first became interested in welfare reform in the mid-1990s upon learning of Tommy Thompson’s successes in Wisconsin since the late 1980s in reducing welfare rolls and putting people to work.

Welfare reform is probably the Gingrich Congress’s last and greatest accomplishment (sadly, after John Kasich & Co. righted the ship and balanced the federal budget for the first time in decades, it mostly coasted or went the wrong way during Bill Clinton’s second term).

I vividly remember the hue and cry from opponents about how millions of people would be thrown out on the streets if welfare reform passed. Charles Grodin, who at the time was a host on MSNBC, was particularly over the top on this topic.

Obviously, doomsday didn’t happen. Instead of being thrown out on the streets, millions threw themselves into work — or got thrown into it, and learned to deal with it, as everyone else who works must.

I think most people expected welfare reform to reduce rolls to a certain level, and then to hit a wall. Remarkably, that hasn’t happened yet (though, as I understand it, certain provisions in the Obama-Democratic mislabeled “stimulus” package may end the remarkable progress made, and perhaps even reverse some of it). Yes, the most dramatic drops occurred in the first 4-5 years after the legislation passed. But even after 2002, the welfare caseload in all states excluding California dropped by over a third, to the point where less than 1% of the population in the 49 states and the District of Columbia is on the dole.

The rest of the country’s success in implementing welfare reform makes California’s failure to get behind it glaringly obvious. Proportionally, Sacramento has wasted tens of billions of dollars over the past 12-1/2 years on a welfare population that is, proportionally, almost 3-1/2 times higher than the national average. After all these years, based on the rest of the country’s experience, it has over 850,000 more of its residents on the dole than it should. The column shows that there is no justification for this. The press in California consistently refuses to notice this outrageous situation.

Beyond that, the column doesn’t get into the Golden State’s handling of entitlement problems that extend beyond traditional welfare: Food Stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, etc. California is also more than likely worse at running these programs than the rest of the country.

The state’s financial mess is a problem its residents and leaders should be solely responsible for fixing. It should offend everyone in the rest of the U.S. that California’s mishandling of entitlement programs not only continues to drain the federal treasury disproportionately, but that it is also demanding — and getting — billions in federal bailout (oh, I forgot – “stimulus”) money.

Finally, adding insult to injury, California’s state and national politicians have, largely unilaterally, hurt the rest of the country by doing everything they can to obstruct energy exploration and production, offshore and elsewhere.

Maybe instead of a secession movement, there should be an ejection movement. California would be high on my list as the first to get the boot.

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Previous Related Posts:

  • Dec. 22, 2008 — CA and National Press Ignore State’s 12-Year Failure to Get with the National Welfare Reform Program
  • May 24, 2008 — California Draggin’: Its Basket-Case Economy and Bloated Welfare System Are Holding Back the US Economy
  • Dec. 19, 2007 — Cali’s Budget Crunch Commentators Avoid Looking at the Welfare Rolls
  • Oct. 17, 2007 — Update: Welfare Rolls Still Plunging After All These Years, and Still Underreported
  • Sept. 17, 2006 — Underreported Fact: Welfare Rolls are STILL Plunging
  • Aug. 28, 2006 — Editorial of the Day: Remembering Who Is Responsible for Welfare Reform