Employees want to bank on sick time

Advertising employee Patti Reynolds hasn’t taken a sick day in 22 years.

It’s not that she hasn’t been ill. She’s come to work with everything from a sinus infection to a broken toe (not to mention Montezuma’s revenge!)

“I always felt it was important to get to work if at all possible because I never knew when I would really need the time,” Reynolds told bargainers from both sides. “It was always in the back of my mind that the time would come when I would catch the big one or the dreaded ‘C’ would come knocking on my door.”

She did that, she said, because she knew the Times Union had a policy of allowing seriously ill employees to recapture unused back sick time — a policy the Company has said it may propose to end. Reynolds articulated why the policy serves both employees and the Company well and should not be abandoned.

“I am not alone. There are many employees who have perfect attendance or who have used very little sick time for these same reasons,” she said. “It has come to my attention this company is considering abolishing the ‘banked sick time’ policy. I can’t imagine what that would accomplish. If anything, I can only imagine all the additional sick days employees would now take.”

Bargaining Committee member Stacy Wood, who was out of work for months after a car accident, said: “It was vital to me to be able to go back and take that time.”

The union members also advocated for the Guild’s proposal to allow workers to donate a portion of their sick time to a seriously ill colleague. Wood noted all the people in advertising who have battled cancer, and Guild President Tim O’Brien and committee member Mary Fultz added names from downstairs.

Chris Benoit of advertising said he would love the chance to help a seriously ill colleague by donating some of his time. The Guild proposal would cap the contribution at 30 percent of sick time so no employee would be left without sick leave should he or she become ill.

Associate Publisher George Hearst said he appreciated the remarks. “We respect what you’re saying, and we will take that into consideration,” he said.

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