Labor leaders shocked at TU proposals
Guild President Tim O’Brien spoke this morning at a monthly meeting of Capital Region labor leaders to explain how the Company is threatening to outsource jobs and eliminate seniority protections if layoffs were to occur, among other givebacks.
Labor leaders expressed shock that a newspaper based in the labor friendly Capital Region, where 30 percent of workers are organized, would propose such an assault on its workers. O’Brien explained that the parties are in off-the-record negotiations, trying to resolve the contract and get the most divisive issues off the table.
“When do you want us to cancel our subscriptions?” asked Doug “Bullhorn” Bullock, a longtime labor activist and county legislator known for coming to labor pickets with his bullhorn at the ready.
“Not yet,” O’Brien replied.
Another labor leader, Hank Landow, said the unions should plan to circle the Times Union building with a picket line.
Labor leaders were highly active in Channel 13’s negotiations last year, picketing the building and placing lawn signs around the Capital Region urging viewers to turn off the station before that contract was settled. Bill Lambdin, president of NABET/CWA, told the audience that he is in negotiations at Channel 6 and recently reached a contractual agreement at WMHT.
O’Brien explained that the Guild and the Times Union are still working under the current contract, which bars picketing and boycotts. If the Company made the serious mistake of canceling the contract, he said, such actions would then be appropriate and immediate.
“At a time when every subscription and every ad sale is precious, the Times Union should not want to go down that road,” the union president said. “It’s not in anyone’s interest.”
A company that purports to treat employees with dignity, fairness and respect should look closely at its own proposals if upper management is serious about that little motto.
Seniority issues cut to the heart of all three words. Proposing to gut the seniority clause is a slap at long-term workers who have spent many years – even decades – making this a profitable and respected enterprise. I find this very unfair – not to mention undignified and lacking in respect.
Patricia A. Pafundi
I am in full agreement with Mike Jarboe to pretend to espouse the philosophy of dignity, fairness and respect and propose eliminating seniority in these economic times is heartless and a slap at the loyalty of longtime emploees. When older workers are facing losses of 50 to 75% in their retirement accounts and the reality that retirement was just a dream they once had to propose taking seniority away is unthinkable. It was their blood, sweat and small salary increases that made the Times Unon successful. But this is the type of thanks American workers have been getting for their loyalty for many years. Just look at the auto industry. Despicable!!!
The company proposals are really absurd and insulting and after all these years, a waste of bargaining time. The seniority proposal should be a non-issue. If someone is not doing their job, or needs training in another area, that person can be dealt with individually, whether a senior employee or recent hire or anywhere in between. If dismissal is the best answer for both parties, the contract specifies severance pay of two weeks for every year of service, which by the way has not been case with the last two buyouts. We see other Times Union employees from management and other unions receive much higher buyout opportunities. Why aren’t Guild employees entitled to the same or more? These are the workers who provide the backbone of the newspaper contents… writers, artists, photographers, salespeople, coordinators, customer service reps and accountants. We work hard every day to put out a quality newspaper. We are continually upgrading our skills and adjusting to new programs and methods. Don’t we deserve the same respect as the mailers, pressmen, printers, management and “quasi-management” which is so rampant at the Times Union? As for outsourcing, why have a union? Is that what this is really all about? Let’s get on with wage and benefit negotiations. We all know the Times Union is making money and is already saving as much as a million on our health care benefits. Let’s put that towards our cost of living raise and get back to work.