The Company acknowledged Wednesday its legal obligation to provide 45 days’ notice to employees if they are to be laid off.
Last week, the Company had said the 45-day notice provision began when it started negotiating with the Guild over the implementation of its layoff language. Guild bargainers noted Wednesday that while the Company’s proposal imposed (we believe illegally) new language on layoffs under Section 3(D) of the contract, it did not alter Section 3(C) which clearly states: “In lieu of notice to the employee, forty five (45) days pay shall be given.”
The Company acknowledged that is true. It attorney, Peter Rahbar, said: “We will provide individuals with 45-days’ notice.”
During the session, the Guild gave the Company two information requests. The first asked for the results of the so-called “test runs” the Company did of its criteria — in other words, the employees’ names that would be on the layoff list if that criteria was used. We also asked for the number of employees in each job title who would be laid off and for details on what would happen to that work. We asked what employees would be expected to do the work, if any job duties would change and if the Company will seek to outsource any of the work.
The second request was an extensive review of the Company’s typo-ridden questionnaires in editorial. Many of those questions mentioned “quality standards,” “length standards,” “productivity standards,” etc. In every instance, the Guild asked the Company to provide copies of those standards, when and by whom they were developed, proof that employees had been informed of the standards and evidence that the standards were negotiated with the Guild as the law requires.
The evaluation forms also made repeated references to employees expressing an interest in learning. We asked the Company to provide evidence that it has indeed tracked every time an employee asks for training.
The forms also asked questions about video and multimedia. Again, the Guild asked for information on what training was done and whether everyone was given an equal opportunity.
The Company said it would take some time to gather the responses, so they ended the days’ talks and the parties set the next meeting for Wednesday, July 8 starting at 10 a.m. As always, employees can attend on their own time.
The Guild also filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the illegal declaration of impasse. A board agent contacted the union Wednesday to begin gathering information for an investigation.
“It’s unfortunate we have to go this route but the Company has left us with no choice,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “From day one, the Hearst Corp. has refused to modify the core of its two main proposals, giving the Company unfettered discretion to lay off anyone or to outsource any job.”