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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘agreement’

Debt Ridden NY Times Squeezing Writers, Golden Parachuting CEOs

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Is it time to say kaddish for the New York Times?

Investors in the paper may already be doing so.  The last time they received a dividend was in late 2008.

The NYT, considered by many to be the global paper of record, has incurred more than $300 million in net losses since 2005, and its advertising revenues have been declining for five consecutive years.

In fact, the paper’s own financial report made headlines when its third quarter revenues were so much worse than expected that the value of its shares plummeted 22 percent, its biggest one-day drop in at least thirty years.  Investors were warned to expect dismal news for the next quarter, as well.

But while the newspaper industry as a whole has been in a funk for years – with Internet news, blogs, and other ’round the clock news sources available—many for free—there are elements of the NYT‘s precarious financial position that make it unique.

The most significant is the stench of hypocrisy hovering over the differences in the way the NYT handles its executives versus its writers.

Remember how the New York Times lionized the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street vigilantes?  What a shock to learn about the barrels-full of money it has thrown at even departing bigwigs, while keeping its proletariat writers at stagnated pay levels, and, in the words of its own union leaders, trying repeatedly to “decimate their health plan.”

For nearly two years, the daily writers at the New York Times (whose union members are represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York), have been working without a contract. Those approximately 1100 workers have repeatedly been met with what they have described as “draconian” efforts to force not only pay cuts and alterations to their health and pension plans, but also forced, unpaid, increases in their work week.

In fact, less than two weeks ago, on Oct. 8, approximately 400 NYT reporters staged a brief walkout because the sides were so far apart and the writers felt increasingly under siege.  In a video interview during that walkout, a member of the union talks about the paper’s hypocrisy.  In a July editorial, the Times attacked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his anti-union activity, saying:

“Labor, so long in decline in the private sector, is also losing its clout in states and cities, unable to match or withstand the unfettered bank accounts of industry. The people who kept Mr. Walker and his policies in power are just getting started.”

And yet, the NYT writers have been stonewalled for nearly two years, with management doing its best during that time to wring out still more concessions from them.

At the same time that the Times has been refusing to increase salaries or benefits by even a minimal amount, it has been throwing multiple millions of dollars at its top executives, past and future, this year alone.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. is the great-grandson of the founder and owner of the New York Times Co.  He is the Chairman of the board of the NYT and its publisher.  Sulzberger appointed Janet Robinson CEO of the paper in 2004. Robinson had spent nearly twenty years rising through the ranks on the business side of the paper, and was long viewed as a quiet complement to her boss.

Although the NYT is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it is, essentially, a family-owned business, and in addition to rapidly declining corporate financial health, alleged competition from family members in executive positions led to Robinson’s abrupt ouster in December, 2011.

And while the NYT allowed the door to hit her backside on her way out, the bundle of dough they threw after Robinson must have made for a somewhat softer landing.  Her severance package amounted to nearly $24 million — more than the company earned in the previous four years.

But that’s not all the paper has given away to bigwigs in the last year.  The new CEO, Mark Thompson, is about to slide into place in early November, with his path greased by a total pay package of $10.5 million.  That package includes a signing bonus worth as much as $4.5 million.

Thompson’s new annual salary is an increase from what he made at his last position, as the director general of the British Broadcasting Corp.  His role in that position was to cut jobs and save money through office and plant consolidation.  That reputation isn’t likely to make him a hit with staff writers.

The NYT  announced this week, just days before Thompson is set to come on board, that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Newspaper Guild.  Nothing, it has been repeatedly stressed, is yet set in stone, let alone laid out on paper, concerning this agreement.  Nevertheless, the Guild’s president Bill O’Meara, wrote that “the agreement preserves the workers’ pensions, protects medical benefits and boosts compensation.”

Interesting that an agreement — no matter how tentative — would have been entered into before the new CEO arrives.  Given Thompson’s past experience, it is hard to imagine he was hired to do more than continue his practice of slashing costs.  The union probably should have gotten the terms in writing before agreeing to allow the issuance of a press release announcing the deal.

So Robinson and Thompson get millions of dollars. Robinson was paid to get out, while Thompson will be paid to make the lowly writers miserable enough to get out.

And this, from an October, 2011 NYT editorial rhapsodizing over the Occupy Wall Street mission:

Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline.

Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.

Tell that to the union. And perhaps the members will say kaddish.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The Blending of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Mordechai Taub, a political analyst who formerly worked for the Republican National Committee and now works for Israel’s Likud party, to discuss the recent agreement between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties to combine their representation in the Israeli government.  They discuss the specifics of this agreement along with how it will both help and potentially hurt the Israeli system.  Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Post ‘Biberman’ Weekly Poll Average: 36.6 Likud-Beiteinu, 24.3 Labor

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Knesset Jeremy Weekly Average #3 (week of Oct 21-28) of 3 polls (Panels, Channel 2, Channel 10) conducted after “Biberman” merger:

Current Knesset seats in [brackets], Week 2 average in (brackets)

36.6 (41.2) [42] Likud Beiteinu

24.3 (19.7) [08] Labor

13.3 (12.7) [—] Yesh Atid

12 (10.5) [11] Shas

09 (08) [07] National Union-Jewish Home

05.3 (06) [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

05 (04) [03] Meretz

04 (04) [04] Hadash

03.3 (04) [04] Ra’am-Ta’al

03 (03) [03] Balad

02.6 (06) [28] Kadima

01 (0.7) [05] Independence

63 (66) [65] Right
57 (54) [55] Center-Left

Jeremy Saltan

Yesha Council Initiates Levy Report Campaign

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

At the Yesha Council Emergency Meeting dealing with the new campaign to pressure the government to authorize the Levy Report and/or make it a condition for a future coalition agreement with the parties that will
form Netanyahu’s next government:

The Campaign’s slogan:  “Netanyahu’s Government: Authorize the Levy Report.” Photo by: Yisrael Medad.

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

Al-Ahram: The Jews Caught a Fat Fish with Morsi’s Hate Video

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In his daily column, Al-Ahram’s Dr. Osama Al-Ghazali Harb referred to a MEMRI TV clip showing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi at a Friday prayers, October 19, nodding his head and answering “amen” as the preacher curses “the Jews.” According to Harb, the clip was an embarrassment for Morsi, who must reconcile his commitment to the peace agreement with Israel and the fact that he, basically, would like to wipe out Israel. Watch the clip and read excerpts from the Harb article, published by MEMRI.

“Over the past two days, MEMRI ‘caught’ a fat fish, which it is now streaming worldwide via the Internet: a television clip of President Mursi during his last visit to [the northwestern city of] Marsa Matrouh. [Mursi is seen] sitting in the front row amongst the congregants of the Al-Tana’im Mosque, listening resignedly to a Friday sermon by Sheikh Futouh ‘Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, head of the Islamic Endowment in Marsa Matrouh.

“As usual, Sheikh Mansour concludes his sermon, in the presence of President Mursi, of course, with the following supplication: ‘Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, deal with the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them. Show us Your omnipotence, oh Lord.’ Of course, Mursi nodded his head, mumbling ‘amen’ along with the congregants after each supplication [against the Jews].

“MEMRI is now streaming this scene on the Internet and distributing it around the world with audio and video, and with English subtitles. This is very embarrassing to the president. I do not know how the honorable president would respond if asked: ‘Do you agree with what Sheikh Futouh said?’ If he says no, it is a problem, and if he says yes, it is an even bigger problem. I believe that no one will ask the president this question, but the case and its implications will not go over well [with Western viewers], since this matter embodies the massive gap that still exists between the official contractual obligation for peace with Israel, and the popular objection to this [peace] agreement. As part of his official duty, the president must respect the agreement, as he has stated many times, but he also cannot disconnect from the prevailing popular mood. This is a complex problem that must be dealt with more wisely. Furthermore, it is important to be well prepared for such events.”

Incidentally, in an earlier story we ran the original subtitle translation, provided by MEMRI, which suggested the Egyptian president was saying “amen” to a call on Allah to “destroy the Jews and all their supporters.” MEMRI has since updated their translation to the president beseeching Allah to “deal with the Jews and all their supporters,” which probably means the same thing but not quite as frontally.

Jewish Press Staff

Israeli Pharmaceutical Sales Certified in Europe

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The European Parliament has approved a pharmaceutical trade agreement with Israel after two years of attempts by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign to block the partnership.

The Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA), simplifying sales of Israeli pharmaceuticals in the European Union, passed Tuesday by 379-230.

The measure recognizes Israeli pharmaceutical standards as equal to those of Europe.  It was approved by the European council in March 2010, but its implementation was thwarted by pro-Palestinian organizations who sought to foil Israel’s entry into the European market.

Malkah Fleisher

The October Non-Surprise: Secret Talks

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

In my last blog, I called attention to a report that the US and Iran had made a secret agreement to end sanctions in return for a halt or pause in uranium enrichment. I suggested that this could be an “October Surprise:” the Obama campaign could claim that the President’s policy of partial sanctions and “tough diplomacy” had forced the Iranians to back down from their march toward nuclear weapons.

In fact, I said, such a deal would be more likely to guarantee the success of the Iranian program than to stop it. But by the time this became clear, the election would be over.

Yesterday the NY Times reported (based on remarks by unnamed Obama Administration officials) that in fact the US and Iran had recently reached a secret understanding, but only to hold one-on-one talks on the nuclear issue:

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time. (my emphasis)

In what is perhaps a Freudian slip, the Times writers note a “risk” — to Obama’s reelection — if this gambit is perceived  by voters as futile, but not in that it might actually help the Iranian regime realize its plans!

Iran has denied the report. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor also denied it, in a carefully worded statement, saying “It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections.” The Times article suggests that there is an agreement in principle, but not a “final agreement.”

It seems to me that simply talking with Iran would not give a significant boost to the Obama campaign, especially if there were any concessions to the regime required just to begin talks.

But it would not surprise me to hear that secret negotiations were presently in progress to try to reach a substantive agreement of some kind before the election, because a deal that could be presented as a victory for the president and his policy would be huge.

This presents a clear moral choice for President Obama and his advisers. Should they go for a big “victory” that will at best give Iran more time and at worst provide it with the cover it needs to go nuclear — and gain 5 points in the polls?

It will certainly tempting for the administration to go for a deal. After all, they may rationalize, they can fix things up after they are reelected.

There is enough uncertainty already, about the amount of enriched uranium Iran already has, about secret installations, about the progress of their weaponization program, etc. The last thing we should do is give them any more time or wiggle room.

We don’t need a “diplomatic breakthrough.” We need to tighten sanctions and follow up with a credible threat of military action. That is the announcement I hope to hear from the president in the next two weeks.

Visit FresnoZionism.org.

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/the-october-non-surprise-secret-talks/2012/10/22/

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