Guild Board urges NO! vote on June 14
The Guild’s Executive Board voted Thursday to schedule a vote on the Company’s “last and best offer” for 1 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at the Albany Labor Temple. And the board recommended the membership vote a resounding NO!
“There is nothing in this proposal to recommend it and a great deal in it that would harm workers, advertisers and readers,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We recommend the membership send a strong message to the Company that they need to respect their employees and their community by coming back to the table with a more reasonable offer.”
The vote was set for Sunday, June 14, for several reasons. Contract votes are always set for Sunday afternoons because it is when the least number of Guild members are working. Our members work at almost every hour of the day, and we need to make it convenient for everyone to be there.
Our union’s bylaws require members get at least 15 days’ advance notice in writing that a membership meeting is being held. We cannot send out that formal notice until one step is completed: The proposal the Company sent out as its “last and best offer” did not include all of the tentative agreements reached since negotiations began last summer. In our discussions Wednesday, the TU said its offer did include those items.
Both the Guild and the Company reviewed a list Wednesday night of the various tentative agreements, and both sides agreed to check their files to see if we’d missed anything. (We found one thing on our end Thursday).
There are about 25 tentative agreements involved. At the session’s end, both parties agreed to review our files and share what we believe to be the final versions of the language of all those agreements. Once the two sides agree everything matches, we can print that up and share it with you so you’ll see everything before you vote. We have not yet completed that work ourselves, and we had not received the company’s version as of Thursday night.
The earliest we could send a notice out is next week, which means the earliest we could schedule a membership meeting is Sunday, June 7. That, alas, is the date of our annual picnic. The board wisely decided that the picnic — the date of which has been set since January — is no place for a vote. So we scheduled the vote for Sunday, June 14. That will give us plenty of time to get the complete proposal together, share it with you, and enable you to ask questions about it. We also plan to have small group meetings to share information in the days ahead.
The Guild’s Executive Board appreciates your patience as we get all of this together for your consideration. We think you will agree when you see it all that the proposal the Company is forcing you to vote on is unworthy of your support.
So, we vote ‘no’, which I will, but THEN what happens?
United we stand
That’s a good question. What we do? What it takes to make it clear to The Company we will not be bullied and expect to be treated fairly. If that means asking friends and family to complete circulation boycott cards, or going door to door to ask subscribers to do so, we do it. Whatever it takes to impress upon The Company it is in its best interest to negotiate a fair contract. I expect this will be discussed in detail at the June 14 meeting; in the meantime, ask one of our union leaders. They can answer most questions.
What worries me most is George’s threat to make a bad “final” contract offer even worse if we don’t take this bitter pill like good little boys and girls. I’d love for him and his negotiators to define “worse,” but given the wording and tone of his “Guild negotiations updates” I’m not holding my breath for answers. Why can’t we get any straight answers from these guys? At least if we knew who’s targeted for layoffs, maybe we could plan for our futures.
That’s his intent, of course. He knows you won’t vote for it because you think it’s a fair deal, so he wants you to vote for it out of fear. But here’s the catch: If you vote for it, the Company gains the unlimited ability to outsource your jobs (and everyone else’s.) You have more to fear from its passage than its defeat. In an ironic twist, if it gets voted down and the TU declares an impasse, their proposal gives the union more say on outsourcing and seniority than if it passes.
Here’s the bottom line: The Company needs to fear what will happen if this goes down and they try to impose it. The community is already up in arms, the employees will be royally cheesed off, the labor movement is rallying to our side and the paper will be giving itself a shiny black eye and sliming its brand. Want to cram this or something “worse” down our throats, George? Then be afraid. Be very afraid.
Thank you for your explanation of all this madness. Once again it affirms my faith in our leadership and I’m encouraged by the growing support we are getting from fellow unions, political leaders and the public at large. We have good, talented people in our guild who care deeply about the Times Union and for each other. Many of us have rejected other offers and chosen to stay because we have grown to love the area and have met our spouses and raised our families here. Isn’t it about time the company recognized and maybe even rewarded that dedication instead of trying to kill it?
I asked George how the next contract could be worse than this one, and he said, “If this contract gets rejected, the next one will require that employees get punched in the stomach on the way into work each day.”
He also said something about replacing desk chairs with a sharp spike.
George is also working with Aldam on the idea of shock/gps collars for all employees. But hey – you should consider yourselves lucky you have a job!
Now back to work slacker! ZAP!