Friday, May 01, 2009

NYT celebrates May Day by sticking it to the common man

Unfortunately the storyline is not quite as tidy as some would like. L'antagoniste is not the selfish, greedy, money-grubbing, capitalistic, Hobbesian swine which we all know and love. No, our story revolves around the lucid, prosaic, nuanced, all-knowing, all-caring, pious merchants of wisdom who strive for a world free of outcomes and responsibility, as long as they get theirs first:

The New York Times Co (NYT.N), which bought the Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993, threatened at the start of April to shut the money-losing, award-winning broadsheet unless the paper's 13 unions agree by Friday to $20 million in concessions.

As the deadline approaches, the future of one of America's most acclaimed regional newspapers looks unclear, illustrating deepening problems for an industry that has few answers for an accelerating, long-term shift of advertising to the Internet.

Negotiations for a buyer, some suggest, could begin if the Times Co wins union concessions, which could include pay cuts of as much as 20 percent, removal of seniority rules and lifetime job guarantees, and millions of dollars in cuts to company contributions for retirement and health plans.
No doubt the story will appear in the NYT under some version of the "Workers feel anxiety as corporate fat cats close up shop" headline. Never fret, our May Day story of class struggle does indeed have a happy ending, for some:

According to the New York Times proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, corporate president and CEO Janet L. Robinson received a total compensation package valued at $5.58 million in 2008, up well over a million from the $4.14 million she received in 2007, and the $4.4 million she received in 2006.

Robinson's $1 million base salary has remained the same for three years. In 2008, Robinson's total compensation included, in addition to her base salary: $1.6 million in stock awards, $1.5 million in options, a $35,000 bonus, $562,500 from the non-equity incentive plan, $898,171 from the "Change in Pension Value and Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Earnings," and "other compensation" of $46,368.

A number of NYT staffers contacted said that there was considerably more resentment voiced on the newsroom floor, and in newspaper guild meetings, about Robinson's pay than about compensation awarded to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the NYT board chairman and publisher.

Staffers noted that even though Sulzberger received bonuses and other compensation more than doubling to $2.4 million his base salary of $1,087,000, his total compensation package has declined substantially over the past three years from $3.4 million in 2007 and $4.4 million in 2006. In addition to his 2008 base salary, Sulzberger's total compensation included a bonus of $38,045, stock awards of $54,443, option awards of $29,832, a non-equity compensation plan distribution of $597,850, a change in pension plan valuation and non-qualified deferred compensation worth $559,826, and $48,878 in "other compensation," according to the proxy.
And they all lived happily everafter.

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