Now it’s not the subscribers who are upset about the Globe’s ill-fated plan to switch distributors. For some of the low-wage workers who deliver the paper, things blew up over the weekend.
A delivery person who wanted to be called just Jean piled newspapers into his car at 3 o'clock in the morning on Sunday. He started working for the Globes new distributor, ACI Media, to keep his route from the old distributor, PCF. And he’s actually still working for them, too. After this he’ll head to one of their locations to pick up other newspapers. But he says working for ACI has been frustrating, in part because of the directions he’s given. Jean held out a list of addresses that’s organized not geographically - but alphabetically by street name.
“You’re going to be passing back and forth," he said. "That’s ridiculous."
Even worse, he said, the new Globe distributor is paying significantly less than the old one. They get paid for each paper they deliver - 12 cents at ACI, compared to 17 cents at PCF.
“That’s five cents difference, man," Jean said. "For some people, doesn’t make anything, for us, makes a big difference, man."
And it’s less than the 20 dollars an hour people in the next car over in the lot are making. That’s because like a lot of delivery people right now, they’re working through a temp agency.
Jean says the delivery people are also going to be fined a dollar for each complaint they get. And two dollars on Sunday.
“Life is hard, man. When you’re struggling to put bread on the table, it’s hard when people taking advantage of you, man. I think ACI was taking advantage of us.”
He said he’s burned out. And this was his last night working for ACI.
Probably at about the same moment, 3 am Sunday morning, delivery workers at another ACI warehouse in Woburn decided they’d had it, too. Juan Antonio Gonzalez was one of those drivers.
"When we actually started in the first few days, they only had a small storage area where the papers were dropped off and we had to bring them to our cars and prepare them there or prepare them as we delivered," Gonzalez said in Spanish through translator Greg Pehrson of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative.
Gonzalez says on Sundays they now had to drive all the way to Woburn to get the papers at a site that had no facilities for them. And the drop to 12 cents a paper was too much to bear. So a group of them decided to give their manager a letter asking for a raise and an adequate place to prepare the papers.
"That morning, a representative of ACI received the letter," Gonzalez said. "He went back to the storage area and apparently spoke to some people, and came back out and said that the letter was an insult to them and he wouldn’t sign it."
So about a dozen of them decided to walk out. And Gonzalez says they’re not coming back until the company makes changes.
“This is a great sacrifice for all of us," he said. "Many of us have families, we all have bills, we have to pay rent. But we feel forced or obligated to do this. It’s not that things were great with PCF, but at least it was a little bit better."
He says the Globe also significantly cut their income by dropping home delivery of two inserts, which the workers were paid extra for. He says those are now being mailed out. Last night, Gonzalez and five of the other delivery people met with labor leaders at the Lynn Workers Center. Gonzalez told them he hopes delivery people from other distribution centers will join their protest. The union reps applauded the workers and offered their help. Gladys Monteros told them delivering Globes was her only job.
“So right now I’m without work," she said through a translator. "And I depend on this. And I would like to see, just have a minute of time of the owner of the Boston Globe to hear our concerns and hear what’s really happening. I would like to see him accompany us for just one day at 3 o’clock in the morning, delivering papers and getting 12 cents per paper."
ACI told the workers they would hear back from them in a few days. They’re still waiting. ACI and the Boston Globe have not responded to calls to comment for this story.
It seems what appeared at first to be a delivery problem for the Boston Globe, was at its heart a labor problem. And it’s a problem that’s not going away.