Guild will tell you if you’re on layoff list

As we prepare for Wednesday’s meeting, people naturally have questions. The Guild intends to answer them as quickly as we can and to share information as rapidly as we are able. We intend to have a membership meeting later this week to discuss these issues with you directly. We will let you know as soon as that is scheduled.

We want to share our thinking with you as we await that date.

First, many members have asked if we will tell them if they are on the proposed layoff list. While we believe the Company should tell you whether you are on their layoff list, we do not keep secrets from our members. We will tell people if they are on the list (or if they are not.) To protect people’s privacy, we will not publicly publish the list on our Web site or share it with the media. We will detail the numbers and what departments they come from.

Now much of what will happen is a matter of dispute, and we will be filing legal charges against the Times Union next week.

First, we do not agree that we are at a legal impasse. In fact, we believe we have a strong case and can show that the Company bargained in bad faith, and sought to subvert prior rulings of the National Labor Relations Board that bar companies from imposing the kind of vague language on layoffs and outsourcing the company pushed to obtain. The language they added about negotiating for 45 more days if an impasse occurred, we do not believe, negates the prior rulings. In fact, it is a blatant attempt to avoid complying with them.

We also did not agree to the company’s language on negotiating these issues for an arbitrary and limited period of time during an impasse so while we will meet and discuss their proposed criteria and layoffs, we are not bound to any timetable the Times Union has set.

Since we are not at a legal impasse, the only way the Company can legally proceed with layoffs is by reverse order of seniority. We had offered language that would have enabled the company to make some exceptions, but the Times Union refused to negotiate anything other than a blank check. Absent an agreement, the Company cannot legally lay off anyone outside seniority. We expect they will do so anyway, and we will legally challenge it if they do. This may mean having to fight the layoffs after the fact with the Company risking that it will one day have to rehire those laid off and give them back pay. This has happened at other companies that improperly laid off workers.

It is unfortunate that cases such as these take a long time to work their way through the National Labor Relations Board. And yet we believe it is better to continue to legally challenge the Company over its behavior than to allow it to get away with what we consider attempts to subvert the law. We do so knowing that this means the union may have to go without dues collection until it legally compels arbitration on that issue, and  that employees may not have the ability to take their disputes to an independent arbitrator for a long period of time.

“We know all of this is very traumatic for our members,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “The Company could have handled this all so much more gracefully. It could have negotiated a fair agreement that would have made some exceptions on layoffs and outsourcing. Instead, from day one, this company has been hellbent on imposing language its employees found unacceptable and legal precedent shows they cannot legally impose. We are in for a long fight, but we cannot allow the company to get away with such disrespect for the law, its employees and its community.”

As soon as we have additional information, we will share it with you. Please feel free to e-mail any questions to us at or call there at 482-9218.


  • Dazed and Amazed

    David Healey lost his job at a small Maryland daily recently thanks to downsizing. He didn’t like being cut off from his community, so he started The Cecil Observer. “The response has been positive and the hits are growing,” he writes, but he adds, “The experience quickly brought me to the realization that print journalism was over except as a niche or boutique business.”

    “One of the things I’ve learned very quickly about blogging is that it truly moves at the speed of wi-fi, or at least as fast as one’s fingers can type on the keyboard.”

  • No longer afraid

    Tim, just wanted to say how much I appreciate your spelling things out so clearly. There has been a great deal of confusion on the part of employees as to what happens next, and Mr. Hearst’s “town hall” meetings certainly did nothing to help clear up misconceptions (in fact, they did exactly the opposite).

    The willingness of the Guild to do whatever it takes to force the Company to treat its employees with the respect and fairness they so clearly deserve has restored my pride in being a Guild member.

    I know now that it doesn’t matter how many slick NYC lawyers the Company puts on its payroll. With the resources we have marshaled for this fight — namely, the honest and hardworking men and women of unionized labor — we will prevail. Whatever it takes, and however long it takes.

    Mr. Hearst, the gloves are off.

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