Company lies on Guild availability for meetings

There is no way to sugarcoat this, folks. George Hearst’s latest e-mail to staffers contains a bald-faced lie.

The publisher states “regrettably, the Guild bargaining committee is not available to meet with our committee at all next week.”

That is false. No formal sessions are scheduled for next week, but the Guild clearly stated to company bargainers and to Hearst himself that it would be glad to receive any proposals the Company wants to make via e-mail. The Guild’s bargaining committee could then discuss it among themselves and respond via e-mail or we would be willing to come in and have a face-to-face discussion.

“We made this comment directly to the Company’s two attorneys during bargaining,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “And we ran into George Hearst as we came off the elevator and repeated the message. While we expect the Company to put its spin on what happens in negotiations, we do not expect them to flat out lie about what we say. George Hearst and his two attorneys owe our bargaining team an apology and a retraction.”

O’Brien said it made little sense to spend hours tied up in conference rooms waiting for the Company to make miniscule movements (and then loudly denounce the Guild, which has moved much further much faster). This is especially true when one bargaining committee member, Stacy Wood, is facing potential firing for not selling ads while she negotiates.

The following week, the Guild team is available for four days and even offered to give up its Saturday if talks are bearing fruit.

The rest of Hearst’s memo contains several distortions of fact. The bargaining committee has made clear that the Company’s unprecedented decision to cancel the contract requires we spend time preparing for boycotts, picketing and other actions we hope not to employ. But we made clear we intend to continue to bargain in good faith and offer solutions in the meantime.

“The Company wants it both ways: It wants to threaten to cancel the contract, cutting off the union’s funding and eliminate the right to take grievances to arbitration,” O’Brien said. “And then it wants to pretend that they’re the good guys. It wants to make little to no movement at the bargaining table and then complain that the Guild, which has made far more movement, is the problem.”

The comment made that we regressed on one proposal, requiring that the Publisher review every layoff, is silly. That was our counter to the Company’s claim that a fair way to prevent favoritism was to have the publisher review every layoff done outside of seniority. If the publisher does not want to be involved in reviewing layoffs, that’s fine by us and we’ll withdraw that portion of our proposal.

Of course, the Publisher has nothing to say about a far more damning regression he made. The Company on March 10 proposed to eliminate the rehiring list so that employees could be laid off and someone new could be hired for their job.


  • JiNX-01

    Hello, George:
    I just wanted to stop by and explain why we added the “publisher’s review” provision to our layoff language. We got it from your negotiating team. 🙂

    Have a nice weekend.

  • Piano

    The way they’ve handled this entire situation has been mean-spirited and abusive. Absolutely unnecessary.
    This has become a horrible place to work.
    George Hearst clearly suffers from delusions. He has no sense of empathy or care for what’s happening with his employees. Each letter he sends out makes that more clear.

  • Guild supporter

    Life without a Guild:
    No overtime.
    No set work times.
    Get called into work on your vacation.
    Split days off.
    Work four hours in the morning. Come back to work four more hours at night or until the job is done.
    No pension.
    Your boss has a bad day, you are fired.
    Think this is a fantasy? Can’t happen at the Times Union?
    Ask workers in Houston and other newspapers with no Guild what happens at their operations.
    Mr. Publisher Hearst, please instruct your bargaining team employees to be truthful to you so you can write accurate memos about talks to your faithful Guild workers. Tell your negotiators to be reasonable and this contract can be settled to the benefit of everyone.
    Guild negotiators: Preservation of seniority and a rehiring list are crucial factors in any settlement.

  • Member

    I ask that you not waste our time with your emails filled with lies! YOU, yourself have backed away from the negotiation table…that shows that you are not that eager to get this resolved! If your not at the table, you shouldn’t be sending out emails about what’s happening…many things can get “Lost in Translation”.

    Were NOT giving up Seniority or Outsourcing Jobs!

  • Family Guy

    I honestly feel sick to my stomach when I read the memos George puts out. I have read all of the company’s proposals. I have read the memos from George claiming he wants an agreement soon. George do you honestly think we are buying your story here? Try making FAIR proposals. Stop pointing the finger at the guild negotiating team being unavailable to meet (if thats what they even said) as the reason these negotiations are taking a long time.

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