Publisher George Hearst, a good man trying to sell a bad deal, is making the rounds of various offices promoting reasons to vote ‘yes.’ He has stunned many members by telling them, however, that if we vote yes, layoffs will begin immediately. If we vote no and he declares an impasse, he will have to bargain for 45 days with the Guild over its implementation.
Workers walked away from the sessions shaking their heads. The publisher just said voting no means people get more than 6 weeks of additional pay.
If the Company’s proposal is defeated, the union would be able to negotiate over the implementation of layoff and outsourcing language. That would give us the ability, for example, to argue on behalf of someone who is 54 and whose pension would be cut in half if he or she was forced to leave before reaching age 55. (In one meeting when George was asked about that, he made a comment about how the pension trustees set the retirement age and half of them are appointed by the union. That’s true but irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the Company forcing people out before they hit retirement age.)
If the Company’s proposal is accepted, the Guild will not be able to negotiate on anyone’s behalf.
And, finally, the Company’s proposal would allow outsourcing of any and all jobs. No other union in the plant has agreed to such language. Yes, the Company has brought some work from the Connecticut papers to Albany, and we favor that. But the Company cannot now send work the other way because our outsourcing language bars it. Remove the language, and the work can be shipped off.
Here’s what happened at other newspapers where some outsourcing language was agreed to. (Other papers have agreed to limits on outsourcing, by the way, and on enhanced severance for anyone who loses a job that way.) In Brockton, Mass., all the district managers were let go. In Miami and a Hearst paper in San Antonio, the advertising art departments were eliminated. Here in Albany, the one area where outsourcing was allowed was among the drivers, and there are now none left. Not a one, even though the Company said when it got the language it had “no plans” to eliminate all the drivers’ jobs. And that language barred the Company from laying off any of them. The Company’s proposal would allow people to be laid off and their work to be outsourced without limits.
No other union in the plant has agreed to such language. Neither should we.