Committee recommends how to use Marv Cermak bequest

Members are invited to an Executive Board meeting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at the Colonie Public Library to discuss the proposal.

The Guild established a committee to discuss and recommend what to do with the $50,000 bequest the union has received from longtime reporter Marv Cermak.

Here is the recommendation in the committee’s own words:

“After much discussion, all seven members agreed that offering a Guild award yearly to two outstanding Times Union employees (who are also Guild members in good standing) is the best suggestion we can offer for the funds.

The Cermak Award, consisting of $1,000, would be awarded to one Guild member in Editorial and another from Advertising, Business, Finance, Circulation etc. each year for outstanding work at the Times Union and dedication to their craft and the business of supporting and publishing the news. Such an award can also take into consideration how such a person juggled other challenges in their lives (say if their excellent work at the Times Union happened while they also took care of an ailing relative at home, or if they themselves were battling a serious condition etc. But such a hardship is certainly not a prerequisite for winning).

Nominating forms would be located in every department along with a drop box, or people could reach out to the award committee chairperson on how to nominate someone.  Criteria for nominating and selecting would be established in a document detailing the contest, and such selection would be done by a Cermak Award committee.

The selection of each year’s two winners would be a secret until it’s announced at the Guild’s annual Holiday Party.”

Please come to the meeting Thursday to participate in discussion of the proposal.

The Executive Board thanks the committee members for their work on this issue. They are Lauren Stanforth, committee chair, Lisa Morey, Tyswan Stewart, Frank Giachetti, Susan Smith, Linda Crowley and Brian Nearing.

February’s Executive Board Meeting Agenda

There will be a meeting of Local 34’s Executive Board at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8 at the Labor Temple. As always, these meetings are open to the membership.

Executive Board Agenda

  1. Approval of minutes
  2. Treasurer’s report
    • Monthly update
  3. Commission committee
  4. Communications committee
    • Newsletter
    • Website
  5. Mobilizing committee
  6. Grievances and arbitrations
  7. Contract negotiations
  8. Solidarity/support for other unions
  9. Old business
    • Donation committee
  10. New business
    • Executive Board Vacancies
  11. Adjourn

Guild receives $50,000 bequest from iconic newsman

A longtime area newspaper columnist with the Albany Times Union has left its workers’ union a $50,000 gift to help its mission of representing, assisting and advocating on behalf of the hard-working families who bring the newspaper to the Capital Region every day.

While Marv Cermak died Dec. 6 at age 84 after a seven-decade career in journalism, his legacy will live on through his generosity to the Albany Newspaper Guild, said President Tim O’Brien. The guild represents about 170 people who write, illustrate, deliver and line up advertising for the Times Union.

Cermak’s gift is the largest individual donation in the eight-decade history of the union. “I was so stunned, I swore in the union office: Holy —-,” O’Brien said. “As a colleague noted, that response, while unusual for me, was completely in keeping with Marv’s colorful way of expressing himself.”

A committee will be established by the union’s Executive Board to consider how best to use the money, O’Brien said. Potential preliminary ideas include a scholarship fund for the children of union members, an assistance fund for distressed employees, and a modest bonus for workers at the newspaper, where wages remain frozen by Hearst Corp. since 2008.

“We are profoundly grateful that Marv chose to honor his longstanding appreciation of the Guild in this way,” O’Brien said. “We want to make sure we honor him in the way we choose to use these funds.”

Cermak began his career as a sports writer for the Schenectady Gazette in the 1950s, later moving to the now-defunct Knickerbocker News, and later the Times Union, where he covered city politics and had a long-time column about the Schenectady area.

A recent obituary by Times Union writer Paul Grondahl recalled Cermak as a cantankerous, dogged and determined reporter with a deep network of sources. Even after retiring from the Times Union in 2002 and an injury five years ago that often confined him to his Mont Pleasant home, he continued writing his column “Covering Schenectady.” His last column ran on the day that he died

Despite buyouts, Times Union lays off 3 employees

The Times Union laid off three workers Thursday: two Guild members and one exempt manager.

The decision came despite the fact that the Company appeared to meet its stated goals under a buyout program. The Company had said it wanted to cut the number of employees by 10 to 15, with the number depending on how highly paid the workers were.

Seven Guild members accepted the buyout offer, and four managers also left. The Company also had said it would count an exempt manager who left around the time of the buyouts, and a Guild-covered employee handling obituaries also left and was not replaced. A top newsroom manager also has announced she will be leaving for a new job.

“We are very disappointed to see three people involuntary discharged,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “This was a sad day for all employees.”

One of the Guild members let go was a 26-year employee known as an energetic and loyal worker in the advertising department, often seen shuttling between sales and advertising art.

The other was a worker with 12 years of experience, who started in the circulation department before being promoted to a position in the business office.

Both are highly regarded by their colleagues, and they were told the job cuts were due to fiscal issues and not their stellar performances.

Under the conditions imposed by the company in 2009, the language that required layoffs to be by reverse order of seniority within a department was changed to “by job title.” In some cases, as with the 26-year employee, there are positions held by a single person. This was not a change the Guild favored, but it was imposed on our members.

January’s Executive Board Meeting Agenda

There will be a meeting of Local 34’s Executive Board at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11 at the Labor Temple. As always, these meetings are open to the membership.

Executive Board Agenda

  1. Approval of minutes
  2. Treasurer’s report
    • Monthly update
  3. Commission committee
  4. Communications committee
    • Newsletter
    • Website
  5. Mobilizing committee
  6. Grievances and arbitrations
  7. Contract negotiations
    • Health Care
  8. Solidarity/support for other unions
  9. Old business
  10. New business
    • Donation
  11. Adjourn

December’s Executive Board Meeting Agenda

There will be a meeting of Local 34’s Executive Board at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 14 at the Labor Temple. As always, these meetings are open to the membership.

Executive Board Agenda

  1. Approval of minutes
  2. Treasurer’s report
    • Monthly update
  3. Commission committee
  4. Communications committee
    • Newsletter
    • Website
  5. Mobilizing committee
  6. Grievances and arbitrations
  7. Contract negotiations
    • Health Care
    • Buyouts
  8. Solidarity/support for other unions
  9. Old business
  10. New business
  11. Adjourn

Company to start enforcing makeup day rules

Days will expire after one year if not used. Those earned before 2016 can be kept

The Times Union notified the Guild this week it will begin to enforce a long-neglected contractual provision that says makeup days must be used within one year of being earned.

The change will take effect January 1 and apply to makeup days earned in 2016. The Guild asked the Company to provide employees with a list of all makeup days they earned in 2016 as well as the date earned so people can start to track them.

The Company agreed people will be able to keep any makeup days they earned prior to 2016.

The Company is within its rights to require an existing contractual provision be followed, even if it has not done so in recent years. The problem had been with tracking makeup days.

With personal and vacation days, the same rules apply to all employees: Personal days must be taken within the calendar year. Vacation days must be taken by April 15.

With makeup days, the date each expires is one year from the date it was earned. Going forward, the Company will have to track each day for every individual, and the employee will have to track when they earned makeup days and when they expire.

If an employee is unable to take makeup days within a year due to work schedule conflicts, those unused days can carry over and be taken at a mutually acceptable time. The contractual language now being invoked  is on page 57 if anyone wants to look it up for themselves.