Guild asked to explore buyout interest

The Newspaper Guild has been asked to let the Company know how many people might be interested in a potential buyout.

In response to the Guild’s request that voluntary reductions be sought first, the Company asked the union to come up with a list of people who might be interested. While this is not the usual route  for a buyout offer, the Guild is trying to do all it can to reduce involuntary layoffs.

Here are the terms the Guild proposed: Employees would get severance as outlined in the contract  (a week for every six months of service, starting with two weeks after six months) and health insurance through the remainder of the year. (We argued that since many members have already paid most if not all of the $750 deductible, they should get the full year’s benefit of the insurance.)

Employees who take such a buyout would still be able to claim unemployment.

If you are seriously interested in this offer, please let the Guild know by 9 a.m. Tuesday by e-mail at office@albanyguild.org or by calling the Guild office at 482-9218. You must provide your name and your name will be shared with the Company. This does not obligate you to take the buyout, but it is essential f or us to be able to provide accurate estimates in the hopes we can save some jobs.

19 thoughts on “Guild asked to explore buyout interest

  1. Can you please clarify how this buyout package would differ from accepting a layoff? It would appear to be about the same, except for the health insurance. Thank you, and thanks for your hard work.

  2. You’re welcome, and you are exactly right. It is very much like getting laid off except with health insurance. And people could volunteer rather than be forced out.

  3. One other question: I am not clear whether the company has accepted these terms for a buyout package, or if it is a Guild proposal that is subject to rejection by the company? It would seem odd to put your name in to the company as seeking a buyout, and then have the company tell you they have not accepted the terms and offer you less.

  4. I am truely distraught. Most of us who work(ed)here adore the TU and would do anything to keep it solvent. We don’t just work here – we ARE the Times Union. Mr Hearst, why are you doing this? I understand times are horrible but why not ask your employees to work together to accomplish making this paper not only survive this economic time but thrive in it? It wasn’t the Albany Guild who said go full speed ahead with the internet without understanding the consequences of competeing with your main product without have a plan to profit from it. It wasn’t the Albany Guild who said drastically reduce the local content of the paper and increase subscription price without doing research to see how it would be recieved in the community. I think it was Corporate who initiated all that and I am sorry but I don’t think it has proved prudent or profitable. You have staff here who understand that the role of a newspaper is evolving but not disappearing. Why would you just roll over and say we are doomed and actively participate in the newspapers demise when your staff is ready to re-educate and re-train themselves to meet that evolution head on?
    I apologize for my rant – I was just very passionate about where I worked and what I helped achieve in the community – too bad you didn’t still feel the same way.

  5. let me see if i understand the options here:

    1. accepting the buyout: an employee who has worked 10 years at the paper would then get 20 weeks of pay plus health insurance for the remainder of the year?

    2. getting laid off: that same employee would get 9 weeks severance pay – and a chance to buy into cobra health insurance?

    are those the options? am i missing anything? thanks.

    • Not quite right. The payout would be the same: An employee with 10 years at the paper would get 20 weeks of pay in either case. The difference is the health-care coverage, and of course leaving voluntarilty vs. being forced out against your will.

  6. help, please, with health care question:

    how much would a typical buyoutee have to pay for the remainder of the year for MVP vs. the layoffee who chooses to pay for COBRA?

  7. Dear Limpin:
    If you pay through COBRA, it will be $601.07 a month for the MVP plan.

    If you take a buyout and get health insurance, you’d continue to pay the $12 and change that comes out of your paycheck a week now. (If you haven’t hit the top of the $750 share of the deductible yet, you’d still have to pay whatever remains on that to.)

  8. Does someone who leaves now, whether laid off or leaving voluntarily, still get a pension when they retire (if they’re vested)? I can’t find details in the contract.

  9. just double-checking:

    if we apply for unemployment, there’ll be no difficulties with the state? if we say we take a buyout, is that the same as saying we chose to leave – and therefore are not eligible for unemployment?

    or will the company back us up and say we were laid off? (or to put a technical spin on it: that we were forced to take a buyout because we would have been laid off.)

    thanks.

  10. Please explain why it would be safe to take the company at its word, that an objection to unemployment claims would not be filed. Also, if a person is laid off, do they get any compensation for the time they’ve been here? How much? Or was that just part of the contract the company no longer feels obligated to follow? Has the company explained why it felt promotions were in order for our top executives when the company, by its own, unverified account, has done so poorly of late? Open up the books to an independent eye, and then maybe we can really begin to negotiate — instead of using what is happening in San Francisco and Seattle to break the union here.

  11. Josef:

    The company would be required to pay the severance listed in the contract, which is a week for every six months of employment.

    The Guild has repeatedly asked the company to open the books, as they have at other Hearst papers, to demonstrate the need for these cuts. They have adamantly refused all requests for a confidential look at the books.

    Why are they promoting people in the face of this, and why are they being so unreasonable? We can’t answer that other than to say that if this continues, the company may well find itself with a pocket full of hornets.

  12. If I choose to take a buyout, and don’t have the company health insurance, would I receive money back for not taking their health insurance? If I apply for the buyout and it turns out the company doesn’t offer buyouts, am I putting myself at risk for being placed on the layoff list because I expressed an interest in leaving.

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