The Albany Common Council approved by a 14-0 vote tonight a resolution to support the Newspaper Guild of Albany in its fight for a fair contract with the Times Union.
All 14 sponsored the resolution; one council member was absent.
“There needs to be give and take on both sides, and I think the Newspaper Guild has done that,” said President Pro Tempore Richard Conti. Conti noted that the newspaper industry is challenged, but added: “Those challenges don’t mean you don’t work with your employees.”
Councilman Corey Ellis asked where the city of Albany would be without the Times Union’s investigative reporting. “Union busting is disgusting, and that seems to be what is going on here,” he said.
Councilman James Sano noted he had called Publisher George Hearst and urged him not to cancel the Guild’s contract. “I find it disgusting not to have a contract,” he said. “Hopefully Mr. Hearst will come to his senses.”
Councilwoman Cathy Fahey said she has the deepest respect for the work done by Times Union employees.
“It means so much to me and my family to have the great work of the reporters of the Times Union,” Fahey said. “If these jobs are outsourced or done by freelancers at cut-rate prices, that important work won’t be done. People who have given years and years of their lives to a business should be supported.”
Councilman John Rosenzweig said he found it ironic the newspaper is raising its price while gutting its content.
Noting she grew up in a union household, Council Majority Leader Carolyn McLaughlin said she was glad to support the resolution and said the Guild “has shown a level of fairness we can appreciate.”
Council member Joseph Igoe recalled both his grandfathers were union printers. He called on Times Union management to work with the union not against it.
Councilman Michael O’Brien, who is no relation to Guild President Tim O’Brien, said the newspaper should practice what it preaches.
“I just find it ironic that the TU, which is constantly commenting on the economic health of the Capital District, would outsource work,” he said.
Guild members Ray Pitlyk and Danielle Furfaro spoke to the council prior to the vote. They were joined by Bill Ritchie, a member of both the executive board of the Albany Public School Teachers Association and of the board of the Capital District Area Labor Federation.
“We are talking about a strong effort to crack the legitimately organized union at the Times Union,” Ritchie told the council. “We want to have a viable economic community. The whole idea of destroying unions, of taking jobs outside of the Capital District, is something we are opposed to. This is no way to treat working people.”