Company targets two more jobs for cuts

At the end of a day when workers passionately explained why proposed cuts would hurt the newspaper’s quality, Times Union management added two more jobs to its target list.

Now the company wants to cut two district manager jobs, reducing the already thin ranks from 14 to 12.

The announcement came moments after the Guild presented a counteroffer to the TU’s buyout proposal. The union proposed employees get three weeks’ severance for each year of service with a minimum of 26 weeks. The union also called for company-paid health insurance for the same time period, and no bar to unemployment.

The buyout would be offered to all employees but it would likely be granted outside the targeted jobs only if a Web or Ad art worker could move into that spot.

The company had earlier proposed two weeks’ per year of service, with a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 52.

Guild bargainers Tim O’Brien, Tim Neff, Marianne Mahr and John Michaels pointed out that since there were few people in the targeted areas with high seniority, that proposal would draw little interest.

The three employees prepared detailed reports on what they do, how their workload has increased and why cutting the jobs would hurt the newspaper. Unfortunately, Publisher George Hearst and other top managers were not present so the main spokesperson for the TU was company lawyer Peter Rahbar.

Marianne Mahr of Advertising art/marketing noted the staff has already been cut 25 percent and another 30 percent reduction would make it hard to get work done. The number of jobs expected of each artist is up 16 percent, she said. “We often struggle to meet our deadlines,” she said.

John Michaels, who prepares online ads, said his department has won awards for its work but that will be harder to do with fewer workers given less time. Web workers do an average of 40 ads a week, which adds up to more than one an hour. “When there are fewer people working, there are more errors,” he said.

Tim Neff, an online news producer, said the new Web site does not require less work to run and online staff does far more than paste stories on pages. “Reducing our staff would seriously affect our ability to manage timesunion.com,” he said.

Cathleen Crowley, the Times Union’s medical writer, sent a letter to Publisher George Hearst about the outstanding work done by the Web team on the Dead by Mistake Series.

After the Guild made its buyout proposal, the TU then said it wanted to offer buyouts to trim two DM jobs. O’Brien said the union needed time to talk to employees. As with the print shop last year and the other posts this year, the union will seek DM representatives to put together an information request and compile the case for saving these jobs. If you’re interested in working on this issue, contact O’Brien at 466-8700.

The union will next meet with the Company on Oct. 12 and 26

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