TU touts, rejects layoff alternative

“A lot of people are nervous about being laid off. This program, it eases their minds.” — Robin Nichols, a Comfortex employee quoted in today’s Times Union.


“We took a look at the shared-work plan, but it is not something we’d be interested in.” — Mark Batten, corporate lawyer for the Times Union, rejecting the same program last week.

On the front page of today’s Times Union, a box promotes a story inside on a state program aimed to reduce layoffs. The shared work program enables companies to “lay off” workers a day or two a week, with the employee able to get full benefits and unemployment for the days out of work.

Inside, the story by deputy business editor Eric Anderson details how the program has helped some local businesses and employees.

We in the Guild thought the program sounded interesting too. We brought it to the Company’s attention during bargaining last week (and one committee member had e-mailed George Hearst about it previously.)

After a brief, perfunctory caucus, Batten returned and flat-out rejected the idea. “We do not feel this is an approach that meets our needs,” he said.

So we were of course fascinated to read that at least one newspaper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, is using the program to curtail layoffs.

We don’t understand why the Times Union is so bent on just letting people go. Initially the Hearst Corp. did not want to offer buyouts; it was the Guild that forced the issue.

The story also quotes Lars Lak, president of the Chief Executives’ Network of the Center for Economic Growth: “I know of no one who, after looking at the program, has decided not to do it.”

Apparently he hasn’t talked to George Hearst.

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