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Guild members to vote Friday on company buyout offer

After negotiations with the company, the Guild will present an amended buyout offer for the consideration of members on Friday, Nov. 2 from noon–1 pm and 4–5 pm, in the executive conference room on the second floor. A “yes” vote means that the offer can be considered by individual members.

The company’s offer still calls for two weeks pay for every year of service. However, the maximum payment would now be capped at no more than 62 weeks, up from 52 weeks under the company’s initial offer to the Guild this month. Years of service would be calculated as of Nov. 1, 2018, and would not include fractional years.

The minimum payment would now be four weeks, down from the initial offer of 10 weeks. These two changes are meant to make the package more attractive to those who have worked here the longest while not over-incentivizing the most recently-hired people to leave

Concurrent health care coverage would be capped at 52 weeks, even for those who qualify for the buyout beyond 52 weeks pay. Those who choose not to accept that health care would not be bought out for any portion of the value of that declined coverage.

The deadline for applying for a buyout would be the end of the business day on Nov. 12 with Human Resources. Filing an application in no way obligates the person to accept a buyout, if offered. The company has sole discretion over accepting or rejecting any and all buyout applications.

Anyone who signs a buyout offer has seven days to withdraw it, should they choose.

The company will not challenge unemployment claims. And those who accept buyout payments can preserve their unemployment eligibility if they hold their release form until 22 days after their last day of employment and then sign it, according to Human Resources.

We suggest anyone with questions in this specific regard contact HR as well as their local state unemployment office to ensure this situation.

To receive the buyout, workers would have to sign a perpetual release that indicates the worker will make no future claims against the company.

Pension benefits and accrued benefits, such as vacation time, makeup days and personal days are guaranteed by our contract, and would be paid at the time of the buyout. Commissions would be included in the buyout calculation for advertising sales staff.

The buyout is being pursued as part of the company’s stated intention to seek an unspecified reduction in staffing before the end of 2018. The company has not revealed the extent of this potential reduction.

Under our contract, members must vote on whether this package should be offered for consideration. If the buyout offer is rejected, then the company can initiate layoffs. Under the contract, layoffs would be based on reverse seniority order (first in-last out). The company would have to give 45 days advance notice to anyone subject to layoff, or provide 45 days pay, per our contract.

This vote is open only to members in good standing, which means that you have signed a News Guild union card and a dues checkoff card. If you have any questions on your status or the buyout offer, please contact your Guild officers: Brian Nearing (x5094) Amanda Fries (x5353), Marianne Mahr (x5589), Jennifer Rodd (x5597), Rob Gavin (x5064), Mark Hempstead (x5675), and Jeff Boyer (x5429)

Here is the company’s language on the buyout offer:

  1. Employees who take the buyout will be given two weeks’ pay for every year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks’ and a maximum of 62 weeks’ pay. Years of service are to be calculated as of Nov. 1, 2018 and will not contain fractions of years. Any differentials an employee would normally receive will be included in the calculation. For employees who receive commissions, commissions would be calculated on a 52-week average starting Nov. 1, 2017.
  2. Employees will receive health insurance for the same period as the buyout period up to a maximum of 52 weeks. If an employee chooses not to take health insurance, there will be no buyout for 2019.
  3. Employees will remain eligible for the pension benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled to or vested in.
  4. Employees will receive all accrued benefits including unpaid vacation, makeup days and personal days.
  5. The company will not challenge claims for unemployment, provided the employee answers the employment questionnaire truthfully and accurately.
  6. If selected for the program, employees must sign a Release to receive any compensation or benefits associated with participation in the Voluntary Buyout program. 
  7. Although all Guild members are eligible, the Times Union retains full discretion to accept or reject each applicant.

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