More than 150 Guild members filled a meeting hall at the Albany Labor Temple tonight to discuss the Company’s announced layoffs.
Guild leaders tried their best to answer questions, although the Company has shared no details to date. Publisher George Hearst has said the Company will develop its plan over the next month, and it won’t be until the third quarter of the year that all layoffs are complete.
Members expressed frustration the Company won’t open its books, allowing a Guild International official to review them but keeping the findings confidential. Taking this step — which has happened at other privately held newspapers, including in the Hearst Corp. — would help ensure members that reductions are truly needed.
Employees also said it would be helpful to know how much the Company is seeking to save so the Guild’s bargaining team could be in a better position to offer alternatives. One young staffer pleaded for people to be willing to offer concessions in the hopes of saving jobs like his, and members assured him that they are willing to do so.
The Guild will take in all the input they received to formulate a response, but members agreed the Company could help immensely by removing some of the large number of givebacks they are seeking from the table. Other proposals still left include eliminating the no-pays cuts clause, giving the Company a blank check to outsource work, enabling bosses to change days off without consent, and eliminating the language that protects against an illegal speedup.
To a person, the attendees were supportive of the Guild’s bargaining committee and said the Company should not be under the delusion that the members have a different viewpoint than the bargaining team.
“They’re not telling us what to think,” one editorial employee said. “We’re telling them what we think.”