April’s Executive Board Meeting Agenda

There will be a meeting of Local 34’s Executive Board at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12 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
    • Investments & CD
    • Renew Fiscal Policy
  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
    • Proposed Bylaw changes discussion
    • Finalize Guild Picnic date
  10. New business
    • Schedule Election for President and other Board Vacancies
  11. Adjourn

Wishing Tim well

As many of you know, longtime Guild President Tim O’Brien is leaving the Times Union to take a job as a public information officer for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Tim has been a fixture with the Guild for more than two decades, serving on its executive board and later as President for almost 18 years, making him the longest-tenured leader in the history of our local.

He has been a steadying force during difficult times and has devoted untold hours to work on behalf of all Guild members.

The Guild is hosting a gathering for Tim starting at 6 p.m. April 5 at Wolf’s 1-11, on Wolf Road. Please stop by to wish him well on his new endeavor.

If you have any questions, please contact Brian Nearing (x5094), Mark Hempstead (x5675) Marianne Mahr (x5589) or Jennifer Rodd (x5597).

Guild President Tim O’Brien bids farewell

Dear Colleagues:

It’s with strong emotions I write to let you know that I am leaving the Times Union, and my role as your Guild president, for a new job as a public information officer for the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Task Force on Traffic Safety.

While I am excited about this new opportunity, I will deeply miss so many friends I have made here as well as the work I have enjoyed so much.

I will also miss being your president. I have held the office for more than 17 years, the longest tenure in our local’s history. It has enabled me to get to know so many people, upstairs and down. It’s also made me a better employee as I have come to a greater understanding of how all the various departments work and how they pull together to create this wonderful newspaper.

I also want to thank our members. These recent years have not been easy, but you all have held together so well and made clear you appreciate the benefits the Guild provides. I hope the company and your new leadership will find a way to give you the contract and raises you deserve. You have my full support. (And I will remain a union member with PEF.)

With my departure, there will be three open seats on the Executive Board as Cindy Schultz and Mike Huber left before me. Please consider taking a seat on the board. Now more than ever, the Guild needs your support.

I am profoundly grateful to all of the people I have served with over the years. The remaining board members — Brian Nearing, Marianne Mahr, Mark Hempstead and Jennifer Rodd — are terrific representatives but they need and deserve your help. Over the years, I was always amazed that when board members left, someone always stepped up. When we needed a chief steward, Brian took on the task and became an invaluable partner.

Please think seriously about joining the board. You are needed, you will feel good helping your colleagues, and it will make you a better employee. And it could lead to other career opportunities.

Best of luck to all and if you’re in downtown Albany, especially in summer when the lunch trucks are out, let me know and I’ll gladly meet you for lunch.

Forever in solidarity,

Tim

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.