Employees came to the bargaining table Tuesday to discuss the stunning amount of work they are being asked to do, and they objected to the Company’s proposal to remove language that bars the Times Union from imposing “unreasonable duties” constituting a speed-up.
District Manager Mark Corelli discussed his role as the only person in a Saratoga Springs depot at a time when the Company agreed to start delivering the Saratogian. Besides the Times Union, DM’s also oversee delivery of the New York Post, Daily News, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
“I know it brings in revenue to the Times Union, but now I am not only responsible to my own company but I have to answer to people at other companies,” he said. The Saratogian supplied incomplete information, and it had some routes on streets where Times Union carriers did not go.
During the weeks surrounding the start of the Saratogian’s delivery, he said, he worked 90 hours and was paid overtime. Though problems remain coordinating the delivery of multiple publications, he has now been told he should stop working overtime.
Corelli said he recently took the first full week off he’s had in seven years and the first Sunday he’s had off in a year.
Renee Bernard of classified advertising was recently moved upstairs from the front desk. She said she was brought in to replace a colleague who left but has been told she also will be trained to take recruitment ads. She’s being taught copy input. When two other employees left, one colleague had to do their work in addition to her own. When she was sick, there was no backup.
Patti Reynolds, an automotive sales rep., recited a stunning list of products she’s expected to sell. At the same time, commissions have been sharply reduced. “What kind of a job can we do under these circumstances?” she said. “Speedup has no place in the Times Union.”
Guild President Tim O’Brien asked the Company why it was proposing to eliminate this sentence: “There shall be no imposition of unreasonable duties constituting in fact a speedup.”
Associate Publisher George Hearst acknowledged the union had never taken a grievance to arbitration on the issue, but said the language had led the union to sometimes ask about employees’ workload. “It becomes an unproductive discussion,” he said.
Asked to cite a specific time when such an “unproductive discussion” occurred, Hearst could not do so.
There was some good news at the bargaining table. The parties reached a tentative agreement on interns that means the union will be provided with information, upon its request, including the duration of any internship and any compensation or credit being provided. Internships are to be of a limited duration and cannot displace or replace existing staff positions.