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.”