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Guild leaders call for OK of Herald contract

Pact could cut 35 union jobs

Union leaders representing newsroom employees of the financially troubled Boston Herald are recommending that workers vote to accept a new contract that would allow the paper to eliminate up to 35 union jobs and lay off people without regard to seniority, according to company and union workers.

A ratification vote is scheduled for Monday, with a simple majority required for approval. Also in the proposed contract, the paper would be allowed to use content from nonunion employees at the company's community newspapers in the pages of the Herald. The Herald's union, the Newspaper Guild, has been working without a contract since November 2003.

Representatives of the union and Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell declined to comment yesterday.

In early April, Purcell told the Guild he planned to eliminate nearly one-quarter of the 145 union newsroom jobs as part of an overall plan to achieve $7 million in savings.

At the time, Guild president Lesley Phillips said she was told by management that some nonunion editorial staffers -- such as editors and columnists -- would also be part of the cuts. Last week, Mike Barnicle said he was discontinuing his twice-weekly Herald column, despite having another year left on his contract.

According to a union document obtained by the Globe, Guild editorial employees who stay on would get raises totaling 14.86 percent over the course of the 67-month contract. Under the agreement, management would be able to eliminate up to 35 union employees through buyouts and layoffs.

The buyout package would be offered to all union staffers with five or more years of service, with the company reserving the right to reject someone's application for a buyout.

Employees with between five and 10 years of service would be offered two weeks' salary for each year of service, 12 additional weeks of pay, and $10,000. Employees with more than 10 years at the paper would be offered two weeks' pay for each year of service (up to 30.5 years), 18 additional weeks of pay, and $12,000.

Employees who do not take a buyout but are involuntarily laid off would receive the terms of the buyout package.

In a key personnel move, Joe Sciacca, currently deputy managing editor for politics, has agreed to succeed Jim MacLaughlin, deputy managing editor for news, who is leaving. MacLaughlin, a 20-year Herald veteran, is leaving next week after accepting a buyout that is not part of the union package.

''It was my idea. I'm not being pushed," said MacLaughlin.

Mark Jurkowitz can be reached at

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