Parties to discuss buyouts, health care Friday

The Guild and Times Union began discussions of the buyout offer Thursday but did not yet reach any conclusion.

The company was open to waiving the deductible for those who take the buyout, and Publisher George Hearst said he’d be willing to allow people in departments other than editorial to apply. The company would still be able to choose which applications to accept, and Hearst said the focus would be on positions that would not be replaced.

(That could mean, in some cases, that a person gets moved into the vacated position and their job remains unfilled.) Hearst said jobs in advertising were unlikely to result in cost savings because those workers would be replaced.

The two sides discussed the idea of lifting the company’s proposed cap of 52 weeks and allowing those under 65 to be able to retire without an early retirement penalty. The Guild pointed out that 19 people in editorial would be affected by the cap.

The early retirement penalty is not as clear cut as it first appeared. Essentially, when someone retires before age 65, they have two options.

One is to get their full pension but with the calculation of years of service ending in 2006. For some who have more than 30 years’ experience, that would not make a difference. For others, it would.

The second option is to take early retirement but receive less for each year before 65. The percentages are outlined in this Guild Pension Plan document. See the chart on page 29.

The union is examining this information to see what it might propose to aid senior employees who might wish to take the buyout but worry about the consequences for their retirement income.

The union will also meet with the company at 2 p.m. Friday to hear about insurance rates for 2012. Keep watching the website for details, and don’t forget to complete your health-care survey. We need your input.

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