WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Labor Relations Board upheld a federal administrative law judge’s decision that the layoff of 11 workers by the Times Union newspaper in 2009 was illegal.
In an unanimous decision this week, the Board also upholds the judge’s ruling that the company’s declaration of impasse in the layoff negotiations broke the law.
In addition to ordering the newspaper to rehire the workers, pay lost wages and benefits and return to bargaining over layoffs, the Board in Washington, D.C added a new penalty: The Times Union was ordered to pay compounded daily interest on money owed to the workers.
The Board’s decision stated the company’s “unilateral application of its criteria for selecting employees for permanent layoff and its unilateral placement of the selected employees on paid leave presented the Union with a fait accompli, tainting the parties’ subsequent bargaining over the layoffs.”
The Guild calculates the bill for lost wages is now more than $500,000 – and growing – even without the interest.
“The Times Union needs to stop its losing legal war on its employees and return to the bargaining table to settle all of our differences,” Albany Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “Too much money already has been wasted on lawyers at a time when the newspaper can ill afford it. We stand ready and willing to negotiate a settlement with significant concessions that still preserves our right to negotiate over layoffs and outsourcing.”
The decision also requires the Times Union to post a notice that it broke the law to employees by email or by internet posting.
In an interesting side note, the Times Union argued to the Board that its own reporting on the layoffs was hearsay and should not be considered reliable.
The NLRB’s ruling comes just a couple of weeks after a federal court sided with the Guild in another issue in the contract negotiations.
In that decision, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the company’s appeal of a federal district court ruling over dues checkoff.
The appeals court ruled that the Guild has the right to arbitration over the company’s unilateral decision to end dues checkoff. The court ordered the Times Union to submit the matter to arbitration. The two sides have scheduled the arbitration hearing for August 30 in Albany.
“We are grateful to the International’s attorney, Barbara Camens, for her outstanding legal work and to Guild International and CWA’s leadership for allowing Barbara to handle these cases for us at no additional cost,”O’Brien said. “We have always said these cases provide leverage that should lead to a settlement, and that is now more true than ever.”