Local Edge workers to become employees
Guild to represent them; no more separate staff selling SEO
The Guild learned Tuesday that employees who have been working for Local Edge and selling ads into the Times Union will become Guild-represented employees.
Two of the employees are being let go by Local Edge, while the other four will join the Times Union officially effective July 1, Human Resources Director Ruth Fantasia told the union. The Company recognized that the Guild would have rights to represent them as part of the bargaining unit.
Local Edge was the successor to the Talking Phone Book. When Hearst got out of the telephone book business, it kept the staff and had its employees sell search engine optimization. While the Guild had always watched closely to be sure that Local Edge’s efforts did not displace any of our positions, outsourcing that would have required negotiation, we are glad these workers will become part of the operation and will welcome them aboard.
What will Obamacare mean for 2014?
Leaders of the Guild, mailers and pressmen’s union met with the Company Tuesday for a preliminary discussion of what the health care changes that take effect in 2014 could mean.
Of most immediate interest is the plan’s stipulation that large employers either provide affordable coverage or pay a penalty. The “affordability” standard is that individual premium rates may not be more than 9.5% of an employee’s total household income. The Company raised a concern that it’s possible a Guild employee could meet that threshold. If an employee did and sought to buy coverage through a state-based health insurance exchange, an employer could face a penalty of $3,000 per employee who receives the federal subsidy.
The health plan administrator, Rowlands and Barranca, said some employers may choose to offer multiple choices so that at least one of them meets the standards.
All of this discussion was interesting but changes may be made before the plan takes effect or its effective dates could be changed. The Guild and other unions appreciated the information presented Tuesday, and the conversations will resume in detail in the fall when more information is known.
Congratulations to Courtney Rubin and Bill Blais!
They won the $25 gift cards to Roma Foods! Thanks to everyone who went to Roma and who came up to the cafeteria for the drawing.
The Guild will draw two names for the $25 gift cards from Roma Foods at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria.
Come see which of your colleagues will win and tell us what advertiser we should support next.
Guild President Tim O’Brien and Photographer Cindy Schultz will represent the union next week at the Newspaper Guild’s international sector conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The event begins Friday morning and ends Saturday night. Local representatives from around the United States and Canada gather every other year to discuss what is happening in the newspaper industry, in the union and in the media.
“It is a good place to go to get advice on issues that arise and to meet with International leaders about our needs in Albany,” O’Brien said. He has been a regular attendee at these events. Cindy Schultz will be attending her first union convention.
The CWA convention follows on the heels of the Guild’s event. Cindy Schultz will fly back home, while O’Brien stays through the CWA convention as the sole delegate from our local. The CWA convention — which features members from a diverse collection of industries, from flight attendants to telecom workers — starts with registration Sunday. The convention runs all day Monday and Tuesday.
The Guild had asked people to volunteer to serve as delegates. Since the Guild had two delegate slots for the TNG convention and one for the CWA convention, and that’s how many people volunteered for each, an election was not required.
The Newspaper Guild of Albany is thrilled about the new press that will display our work like never before.
We congratulate the Hearst Corp. for making this major investment at a time when many others are abandoning daily delivery. It shows a real commitment to the future. We took out a congratulatory ad to show our appreciation for this historic investment.
At the same time, the Hearst Corp. has not shown a similar commitment to its employees. Without them, the new press would be printing blank pages.
It has been more than 5 years since Times Union employees have had raises and four years since we have been without a contract. The Guild has met and will continue to meet with the Company to continue to discuss getting our members the raise they have long since deserved.
We welcome Frank Bennack and Steve Swartz today, and we hope the commitment to a new press will also lead to a renewed commitment and investment in the people who helped make the Times Union the 2012 Newspaper of Distinction.
The Guild’s Executive Board will meet at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria to discuss whether to buy an ad in the special edition the first day the new press operates.
Guild leaders and members can also give their thoughts on what an ad should say.
The union has received strong feedback from members. Some have said we should not buy an ad since we have not received raises in more than five years.
Others have said we should buy an ad as the latest sign we are willing to bargain in good faith — without mentioning the lack of a contract. Still others have argued with equal passion that while we should hail the Company’s terrific investment in a new press, we should also note that the time is overdue for investing in employees too.
After all, it was employees who earned the TU the Newspaper of Distinction Award. Without us and our hard work, the pages would be blank.
Whatever you believe, come to the cafeteria Tuesday to share your views.
Guild members approved the health care rate for 2013 by a 59-2 margin.
A little more than 120 members are on the company insurance, so the vote represents about half the membership who take company health care. Some colleagues were out sick or off Wednesday and notified the union leadership that they could not make the vote.
The members will pay $43.90 a week, up $6.14 or 16.3 percent, from the current $37.76. The company had originally started with a proposal that called for increasing the weekly payment by more than $9. By questioning the numbers, the union was able to reach an agreement for a lower rate.
The increase will take effect with the pay period that begins Monday, January 21.
The Blue Shield plan will remain unchanged, with the same $750 deductible paid by employees and the same 90/10 split when employees reach the top of the company share of the deductible. (That is $2,000 for a single person, $4,000 in a family plan.)
The Company also agreed to provide a monthly report of how much is paid out in reimbursements and to start the conversation on health care by October 1. Those two steps will help the Guild to prepare earlier for this discussion next fall.