After months of jostling between the New York Times and the largest union representing employees of the Boston Globe, the two sides reached a tentative settlement around 11Ppm last night, perhaps paving the way for the Globe to be sold.

The deal as it stands would force 670 Globe employees to accept an 8% decrease in pay, as well as reductions in benefits, which would save the paper an estimated $10 million annually in operating costs. More details of the agreement will be disclosed to guild members at a meeting scheduled for later today, and a member vote on the proposal is scheduled for July 20th.

Perhaps most importantly for all parties involved, the agreement helps the Times clear one of the biggest hurdles in their effort to find a sucker to take the Globe off of their balance sheet.

Several potential investors are considering whether to submit bids separately or as a team. The company bought the paper in 1993 from the Taylor family for $1.1 billion, and it was highly profitable for several years, but it has become the biggest drain on the company's finances.

In a deeply troubled industry, The Globe has suffered more than most from the steep declines in newspaper advertising and circulation.

People briefed on the thinking of potential buyers said that winning union concessions, particularly the elimination of job guarantees, would significantly improve the chances of a sale.

There's a lot of time between now and July 20th, and if any collection of saps can figure out a new and innovative way to screw themselves over, it's the employees of the Boston Globe.