In an effort to get employees to swallow all of its demands, the Company today filed notice it would cancel our contract on April 9.
“The message to members is that if you don’t allow the Company to gut your contract, it will launch an unprecedented assault on your union,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said.
Canceling the contract would mean the union would no longer be able to take grievances to an independent arbitrator. The Company also claims it will be able to cease deducting dues from your paycheck. The union disagrees and will seek help from the Guild International.
“This in no way allows the Company to impose the contract language that it wants,” O’Brien said. “It cannot lay people off while ignoring the seniority language or outsource our work. This is meant to force the union to its knees because your bargaining team has stood up for you and continues to stand up for you.”
O’Brien told Publisher George Hearst it was the dumbest move the Company could make. The union has tremendous support from labor leaders in the Capital Region. “If the Company wants to target the union, the Guild will have no choice but to respond in kind, preparing to launch a circulation and advertising boycott should the Company follow through on its threat and cancel the contract.”
The move also came at the end of a day when the Guild leadership offered significant concessions: including a 5 percent across-the-board wage cut, the elimination of overtime until employees have worked 40 hours a week (not just 7.5 hours a day), the end of the bonus day for those who never take sick time.
Later in the day, the Guild offered an amendment to the layoff language, allowing the Company to lay off employees by job title rather than department: Layoffs would still have to be done by reverse order of seniority, a significant give on the union’s part.
The Company said it intends to lay off 20-25 percent of Guild members, but the numbers it provided — 65 to 70 workers — make up closer to 30 percent of the bargaining unit.
And what did the Company come to the table with Tuesday? A regression on its proposal on layoffs. It not only wants to be able to lay anyone off despite how long and loyal their service, the Company added to that today by removing any reference to a rehiring list.
“Every member of the Guild who values their contract and their union will be asked to step up and mobilize effective immediately,” O’Brien said.
The union’s Executive Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Albany Labor Temple to plan its strategy.
Bargaining resumes at 1 p.m. Wednesday. All members who can make the meeting should attend.