UPDATE: That was fast. We are told the signs have been altered to remove the offending word. That’s only a start in addressing our concerns.
As part of what it deems a motivational technique, the Times Union is branding some of its ad sales staff ‘terrorists’ on charts posted outside the department.
This is the latest effort in an increasingly misguided, inappropriate way of handling the sales staff. On Tuesday, as the Capital Region braced for a massive snowstorm, Advertising VP Kathy Hallion sent staff an email telling them to “plan ahead” and be on time for an 8:30 a.m. training session.
Guild President Tim O’Brien replied that it was inappropriate to push employees to rush to work on a day when roads were likely to be unplowed and when schools and many offices were being shuttered.
“Employees should be cautious driving into work tomorrow,” he replied. “No training is worth injuring yourself or others.”
Last fall, advertising employees met with Publisher George Hearst and presented a petition that formally complained about the hostile work environment in advertising. The Company then sent a corporate lawyer to do “an investigation.”
The Guild then did a survey of advertising employees that documented how bad conditions are and how half the staff had sought medical help due to stress in the workplace. The union emailed a link to the Company’s management, locally and nationally. You can read the results here.
Finally, Hearst replied with a brief note to ad sales staff. To date, he has never responded to the union.
“As you may know, we have conducted a full investigation into the issues raised and will take action to address these concerns as appropriate,” Hearst said.
“We also will continue to closely monitor the situation going forward.”
That was it. No details, no specifics. Advertising employees have grown increasingly frustrated with Hearst’s failure to respond to and address their concerns.
On Saturday, the union held a training seminar at the Desmond on how to respond to bullying in the workplace. Most participants came from the advertising department.
“This is a phenomenon that has serious consequences,” speaker KC Wagner of Cornell University said. “This is not just something happening in your head. This isn’t just the union doing its thing.”
She said workplace bullying today stands where sexual harassment in the workplace was 30 years ago. With new emphasis on preventing bullying in schools, companies will start to realize they must also bar the use of threats and intimidation in the workplace.
The Guild gathered numerous ideas from the seminar it will be working on going forward. Members interested in helping or learning more can attend our monthly Executive Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 13, at the Albany Labor Temple.
In the meantime, the union will reach out to the Company and demand that the shameful signs declaring some ad sales employees “terrorists” be taken down.