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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call there at 482-9218.