Should George Hearst get dismissal pay?

Contract negotiations ended abruptly Monday when Company negotiator George Hearst showed up two hours after talks were originally scheduled to begin. Guild negotiators told Hearst his perpetual lateness is disrespectful and needs to stop, then they left.

It is not the first, or second, or third time that Hearst has been an hour or more late for a bargaining session. Usually, he just shows up late. This time, he had his administrative assistant call to say the session would start at 11 a.m. instead of 10 as the parties had agreed. Monday morning, she called shortly before 10 a.m. to say talks would begin at 11:30 a.m.

A couple of minutes after noon, Hearst and Company attorney Peter Rahbar finally walked in the door.

Guild President Tim O’Brien pointed out that under the Company’s proposal, an employee could be fired for “just cause” without getting dismissal pay. O’Brien asked if an employee who consistently made appointments and then showed up more than an hour late for them would be given dismissal pay under the Company’s proposal.

Hearst tried to treat the matter as a joke, but Guild bargainers weren’t laughing. They are tired of the Company wasting the team’s time and the money members pay bargainers when they are negotiating,

“It’s disrespectful, and it has to stop,” O’Brien said. Afterwards, bargaining committee members — who had come prepared with a comprehensive off-the-record proposal to make — discussed among themselves that it might be time to bring in federal mediators.

The parties are scheduled to resume negotiations at 10 a.m. next Monday, Nov. 24. This time, if Hearst does not keep to the schedule, the bargainers won’t wait long.


  • Dan Higgins

    I was disappointed to read this. I just spoke with George today in the front lobby. A pleasant conversation as usual.

    But I must ask, is this some kind of bargaining technique? If so, it undercuts what the company will eventually say (if they haven’t said this already): “We’d love to make a deal but The Guild is dragging its feet.”

    I support the committee’s actions on this matter.

    To the company: Please treat us with respect, and you’ll get respect in return. Please do not treat us like a commodity, or that’s what our product will become.


  • Mike Jarboe

    Dan sort of stole my thunder. I do not consider it respectful in any way for company bargainers to engage in habitual lateness, and fully support the Guild ending any meeting for which the company can’t be bothered to show up on time.

    I have always had a very pleasant relationship with George, but business is business.

  • Ken Crowe

    I know from my dealings with George that he’s always been interested in everyone working at the Times Union. I’m surprised and disappointed that the lateness is marring contract talks.

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