Guild makes comprehensive proposal

The Guild made a comprehensive proposal to settle the entire contract Tuesday, starting with annual raises of 5 percent for four years.

Under the Guild’s plan, the pension would get a much-needed boost, with an increase in the contribution from 85 cents an hour to $1.05. The Company’s pension contribution has not increased since 1986. With the stock market struggling and a reduction in the Guild workforce, a raise is needed.

The Guild proposal would add a fifth year of vacation at 15 years of employment and a sixth week at 25 years.

The package would include agreeing to the proposed switch to an MVP plan. Since the move would save the Company money, the Guild said it made no sense to increase the employee contribution from the current 16 percent. The Guild also proposed that the Company pay the full deductible in the first year, giving employees time to set aside the $750 for future years. The Guild also called for the Company to set up a debit-card system, enabling you to use the card to pay your doctor.

For employees in advertising, the Guild proposed that there be one pay classification for sales people at Class D and that commissions be subject to the review and approval of the Guild’s Commission Committee. We’ve received numerous complaints about the frequent changing of goals, unrealistic sales expectations and constant addition of new products to sell.

The proposal came after the Guild had sent out a survey on Friday to its advertising sales workers, with a suggestion that a meeting be held to discuss these issues further.

“Making this proposal does not negate our ability to still have this discussion,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We wanted to make a comprehensive proposal swiftly because we think any change to our health insurance should be part of a contract settlement. That meant giving the Company a full proposal today, but we certainly expect there to be more discussion about whether the current five different pay classifications for advertising sales employees is appropriate and what changes should be part of a final contract.”

The Guild also proposed increases in various differentials, many of which have not been raised in decades, and for a consistent policy for reimbursing employees for using their cell phones. There were also eight upgrades proposed.

You can see the complete proposal here.

The Company is upset at the Guild’s insistence that any agreement on health insurance be part of a total package.

“We’ve sat at the table since June staring at the same pile of givebacks, and the Company has not moved off a single one of them,” O’Brien said. “Give them the health insurance, and they would have no motive to move off a thing until next year’s health insurance costs were up for discussion. It is well past time that the Company put the same energy and effort into its proposals that the Guild has put into theirs. We are committed to reaching a total package that rewards our members for their hard work and dedication and for the ever-increasing workload they are expected to bear. The Company would be well-served to remove its proposed givebacks from the table and to start a discussion on what a reasonable contract offer would be. We believe our proposal today is an important step toward that goal.”


  • Ken Crowe

    It’s amazing how health insurance draws our attention. I heard from several fellow members today about it. One theme is the company wants us to give up something and again there will be no improvements. As I recall when the Teamsters in the mailroom settled their contract health insurance was involved.
    The Guild represents the largest portion of the Times Union’s workforce. It’s all of us working together that makes the Times Union a valued member of the Capital Region community. We all want the paper to be profitable. We also want it to be a place where we can be proud to work. The comprehensive proposal put together by OUR negotiating team does that. Let’s hope the management group will realize there’s a great opportunity to wrap up negotiations and get a new contract.

  • John Runfola

    Guild team: Thank you for your work.
    Health insurance needs to be part of any contract settlement. I oppose any system with deductibles that we must claim for payment. A $750 deductible, for example, exceeds the weekly take-home pay of most, if not all, Guild members. Ouch!
    I am a Guild trustee of the pension fund. We need a contribution increase. The company has reduced the number of Guild members paying into the system as it shifts jobs to exempts. More money must go into the fund to make up for the shortfall. In addition, the fund has taken a real hit with the crisis on Wall Street.
    Job security and the preservation of 1-D is crucial.
    Remember, the Hearst Corp. is not a publically traded company, so any arguments that the stock of newspaper companies like the New York Times, Gannett and others is down so we must suffer is bogus. Newspaper stock has become a real estate play in the stock market. What does that have to do with us?

  • Nina McCane

    Many, many thanks to our Guild President, Tim O’Brien and the rest of our amazing bargaining team! You stand our ground and we need to back you…all the way…every day. Guild members – we all HAVE to stick together, talk, listen and push for fairness as a group. We all spend at least half of our waking hours at work, 5 days a week. We need to have strength in numbers…solidarity. Speak up, speak out, make yourself heard through our union! Do NOT sit back and let the negotiating team try to do this all on their own. Whenever there is an event or meeting…go to it…or as many as you possibly can. Our careers depends upon it. Our work environment can be a safe, clean place if we all speak up. Our pay can be fair. Our benefit package can make sense to both the employees and to management. Think long and hard before you vote on the insurance end of the contract. Do we really want the insurance company and the TU management controlling $750 of our hard-earned money? Do we want a cap on what we can afford to have done medically? If we have 2 major tests performed and exceed the cap, what then? Think long and hard on all the issues. Read everything on the site and in the letters from Tim O’Brien. Be informed!

    One huge beef…I am one of a dying breed at the TU. I am one of only 2 Artist Assistants left in the company. The 2 of us make $1,114.28 less per month than an Artist and are required to create, re-work or correct a minimum of 124 ads per week; web logos and banners NOT counted in this number. An artist is required to create, re-work or correct a minimum of 32 ads per week; web work not counted in this number as well. Yet – we make two-thirds the pay. An Artist is a Class C. An Assistant is Class I. That is a huge gap in classification for doing very similar work. Read the Guild Handbook – page 79 – the Ad Art Classification Changes proposed and passed under/through Melissa Locke, our previous Guild President. It is a letter from Melissa to Bob Wilson. The main issue is that a sentence was agreed upon to be deleted for that contract in 1995. The sentence read, “It is not the intention of this agreement to pay new employees less for doing the same work”. Then it is stated, “We believe our agreement on this subject, as set forth in the negotiated side letter, makes it abundantly clear that Artist Assistants and Advertising Artists are two distinctly different jobs, with different levels of skill, creativity and function. My point: there is very little, if any distinction between functions. The 2 Assistants (myself included) have the knowledge of systems and software programs, the necessary artistic skills and the ability to create any ad brought into the department in a timely, meet or exceed the Advertiser’s needs fashion. The only thing that separates us from the skill level of the Artist title is that we have not been trained in Flash – for web ads. I say, “bring on the training”, “bring on the equality” and “give us equal pay for equal work”.

    Thank you.

    In the recent Comprehensive Package Proposal, it is requested that Artist move from Class C to Class B. What about the 2 “lowly” Artist Assistants? I respectfully request that the position of Artist Assistant be eliminated..that we be moved into the Artist classification. We are hard working, capable, creative artists. I request equal pay and classification for equal work. I request the same access to in-house and off premisis training in order to fulfill the Artist position.

  • Mike Jarboe

    I’m puzzled by the company’s actions. I was on the negotiating committee when the company insisted on tying up negotiations for two years – two years – over pension issues that should have been unconnected to collective bargaining. And now they want to claim the Guild is dragging its feet over a health care proposal that they want to separate from a contract settlement?

    The company is being beyond unreasonable, and is being unfair to the workers who are going beyond the call of duty in all departments to keep the enterprise healthy. Fair is fair, and the company is being unfair.

  • Dan Higgins

    I support Tim and the Guild team. So do my coworkers, even those who don’t leave blog comments. It pains me that the company accuses the Guild of dragging its feet. It’s kind of a Karl-Rovian tactic of flipping reality on its head (a tactic that seems to be going out of style) — “We’re not dragging our feet, YOU’RE dragging YOUR feet.”

    Oh, my.

    Health care is part of the contract. If the company wants something from us, then what do we get in return?

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