That was the Company’s reaction to the Web video where members voiced their concern about the Company’s proposal to be able to change employees’ days off without consent at any time — even to force people to work split days off.
Associate Publisher George Hearst said he and Publisher Mark Aldam watched the video. Their response was to ask if the Company had failed to communicate the current state of the industry and how it is affecting the Times Union.
Guild bargainer Mary Fultz asked what forcing people to split days off or allowing their days off to be changed without consent had to do with the state of the industry. “This isn’t McDonald’s,” she said.
“You’re asking us to give up a structure that gives a more professional environment,” Fultz said.
“The enterprise needs to be flexible,” Hearst replied. He said it wouldn’t make sense for managers to penalize people by switching their days off in a way that was harmful to their family life. Guild bargainers replied the Company was seeking way too much power over workers’ lives, and some of its managers would abuse the language if given free rein.
“Flexibility is nice, but where is our flexibility?” Fultz asked.
Bargainer John DeMania noted the language already says days off can be changed without consent if it is necessary for publication.
The Company said the issue arose when two long-time librarians were forced to work weekend days after several decades of service by each to the Company. The Guild filed a grievance, which the parties settled on the verge of going to arbitration. The librarians were moved back to a Monday to Friday schedule, and both of them took the recent buyout.
The Company cited this as a “roadblock” to implementing change and claimed the librarians “were discomforted by the fact that the businsess had changed.” Guild President Tim O’Brien said the librarians were given little to no work to do that had anything to do with producing the next day’s newspaper. He said the Company’s fantasy of why the librarians were needed on weekends did not match the reality of what they were doing.
Hearst replied it may have been true there was insufficient work for the librarians on weekends, but they should have seen the workplace would eventually “evolve” to justify the shift of their schedules. O’Brien said the Company should have a clear need for people to work weekends before assigning them to do so.