The Times Union is seeking to punish employees for voting ‘no’ on its proposal to outsource any and all jobs and to lay off employees regardless of their length of service.

Shunning offers of compromise, the company said Tuesday it is declaring an impasse and will impose terms effective June 24. While Guild President Tim O’Brien had come to Publisher George Hearst in person immediately after the vote Monday to offer an olive branch, Hearst informed the union leader of his decision by e-mail sent through his secretary Tuesday evening.

“The publisher, sadly, did not have the courage to deliver the message face to face,” O’Brien said.

The publisher’s letter said he would drop the $500 bonus he had proposed to pay workers in lieu of raises this year and next. That decision breaks a promise he made to editorial workers in one of his sessions prior to the vote.

The Company will seek to force employees to accept layoffs without regard to seniority and the wholesale outsourcing of their work, conditions they soundly rejected in their vote. While it won’t pay the bonuses, it will seek to increase your share of health care costs by 5 percent effective Jan. 1, costing more than $300 a year under current rates. The Times Union also will try to impose language enabling bosses to change your days off once a year without your consent.

“The publisher told employees repeatedly he really wanted them to vote,” O’Brien said. “When they rejected his offer by a more than 3 to 1 margin, however, the Times Union rejected offers of compromise and decided it needed to punish the employees who make the Times Union profitable.”

The TU also seeks to punish the employees by making the end of dues collection and arbitration rights permanent.

“Every step of the way in these negotiations, the Guild has offered compromise,” O’Brien said. “And every time we have done so, the Company has responded by demanding more and more and more. They have failed to bargain in good faith. They have demanded the kinds of concessions that newspapers that have declared bankruptcy or been losing millions for years have received. The publisher has said this newspaper is profitable. He has refused to show us the books. There is no excuse for his behavior. The Times Union should be ashamed of itself.”

In one of his meetings prior to the vote, Hearst told editorial employees that canceling the $500 bonus was something he could do if he declared impasse but he assured workers he had no intention to do so. Clearly upset at the vote, he broke his promise.

The Guild will not take this action lightly. We will file a legal challenge to the Company’s claim of impasse.

“The only winners as a result of the publisher’s actions will be the lawyers,” O’Brien said. “But we will continue to fight for our members, and we know the public is solidly behind us and will continue to voice its opposition to the company’s reprehensible behavior.”


  • SuzanneM

    It is sad it has come to this but Mr. Hearst really gave us no good reason to vote in favor of his proposal. We had a lot to lose now and in the future by permanently changing the terms of our contract to his terms, and nothing to gain. The union members did the right thing. At least when we lost the bridge we did so with a $5,000 bonus and that saved the company millions, at the members expense. It’s insulting that he thinks we would agree to those terms in return for what amounts to $5 a week for two years after taxes. When you put your “offer” out there, Mr. Hearst, did you really expect a yes vote? Do you really believe that shows your employees you are making a good faith offer and and that you are flexible and the Guild is not, as you claim? Come on now. What did you really expect?

  • A New Voice

    I’m confused…what happened to the 45-day negotiation period that both Mr. Hearst and the Guild talked about, in the wake of a “no” vote? My understanding was that no layoffs would occur for 45 days following declaration of an impasse…please elaborate on this.

    • albanyguild

      I don’t know if exempt brother is still on line, but if you look at past posts you’ll see the answer: It’s the TU that is the source of the embarassment.

  • On Edge

    Interesting email, George. Funny the one thing you DIDN’T mention. Layoffs. Are those planned for June 24? Not saying? Prefer a sneak attack? Stay classy, George.

  • Goodbye Girl

    This looks an awful lot like a Bazillionaire’s temper tantrum. How dare you not cave to my demands! Do you know who I am??!! I warned you – and now…I am unleashing my wrath!

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • Worker Bee

    I’m so disappointed in you, Mr. Hearst. We had such high hopes for you when you took the office of publisher, but it turns out you’re continuing down the path of your predecessor … by shoving your will down our throats. It’s disturbing that you talk about the Guild as if it is your enemy … one that’s stopping you from completing your mission. News flash, Mr. Hearst: We are the Guild. The Guild is us. And we are your talented and dedicated workers. We have helped make the Times Union the paper it is today. Please show us that your not a heartless businessman and come back to the bargaining table. Honor the Vote!!!!!

  • Villa

    Does George realize that destroying a great newspaper and disrespecting the paper’s workers is going to the legacy he takes to his grave? Sad, sad, sad.

  • I voted no

    Someone made a comment that we should all go to NYC this weekend to protest the company’s despicable conduct. That is a great idea, but if it were to happen I could not make it. After all, for years I have sacrificed my weekends in order to get Hearst’s paper out, so I will be working.

    Perhaps some of the people who have assisted in this reprehensible action will be the ones putting out the paper on weekends when we are gone.

  • lbj

    …I’d hold vigil outside each and every venue where he’s a board member as well (Albany Institute of History & Art, SPAC, St. Peters)…just to illustrate his “positive commitment to the quality of life” in our community…

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