Economic recovery requires job security

From Tim O’Brien:

When I came home from work last night, I stopped to talk to my neighbor, who was outside fixing one of his family’s cars.

His company has already informed him he will be laid off, and there is less than two months to go before his final workday. As we spoke, another neighbor pulled up and said he is in danger of being laid off too. They both knew that the Times Union is also looking to lay off employees and wants to eliminate seniority protections to do so.

My neighbor said the car he was fixing is old and should be replaced, but given the uncertainty he was just going to keep it running as long as he could. The dealership he normally would buy from is a Times Union advertiser.

I told him I too was hesitant to do some of the home renovations my wife and I had planned. Our deck wasn’t well cared for by the prior owner and we’d like to replace it, and we’ve long wanted to relandscape the front of our house. The bushes there are old, scraggly and planted too close. But like a lot of people, we’re not going to spend money on such things right now. The landscapers, the deck builders: They are all Times Union advertisers.

At the bargaining table, the Company is insisting on gutting fundamental job protections. When we once mentioned their proposals would make everyone an at-will employee, Publisher George Hearst replied as if job security was a quaint relic of the past. (Mary Fultz had the chutzpah to point out that George, with that last name, will never need to worry about job security.)

But as the conversation with my neighbors indicate, job security is not a quaint relic. People who are afraid they will lose their jobs at a moment’s notice are not going to spend their money. They are not going to buy from our advertisers, shop at their stores or hire their services. The advertisers will then have less to spend on placing ads in the TU. It becomes a vicious cycle, as we are now seeing nationally.

We in the Guild understand that some cuts are necessary. Much as they pain us, we’ve never said there should be no layoffs. We’ve proposed to modify the seniority language to make exceptions and to amend the outsourcing language in a way that would not put every job at potential risk. But to propose to permanently leave workers without job security, as the Times Union continues to do, is to propose long-term damage not only to the Capital Region economy as a whole but to the Times Union and its advertisers as well.

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