Bill O'Meara, the president of the Newspaper Guild of New York, said that he expects mediation at the New York Times to produce a contract by November, if at all.
"If we’re going to have a settlement, it is going to happen between now and probably early November," he told Poynter. On Wednesday, the newspaper and the union announced that they will enter mediation to help break the deadlock in the talks. The mediator, who will attempt to broker a deal between the two sides, will be Martin Scheinman.
The reason for O'Meara's November prediction, he explained to Poynter, is that the groundwork would have to start in order to implement the new pension plan at the beginning of the 2013 calendar. Employee pension has remained one of the biggest sticking points in the talks, along with company contributions to health care and raise schedules.
Thus far, both sides seem hopeful that mediation will produce a satisfactory deal. In a memo obtained by The Huffington Post, Times science correspondent Donald G. McNeil, Jr. said the new development "is very good for the process - we were getting nowhere."
O'Meara said he felt “cautiously optimistic” going into the proceedings. “We’ve called in somebody who I think is the best mediator in the business, at least in this area, and we’re hoping he’s going to be able to bring the two sides together,” he said.
Scheinman has heard disputes at the Times before. The Times and the Guild turned to him after reaching a major roadblock this week. In their loudest display of protest yet, employees staged a brief walkout on Monday afternoon. Representatives for management answered on Tuesday, when they left the negotiation session after ten minutes and announced that they would make their "final offer" in two days.