From a good job to a poverty-level one

The Times Union is trying to turn a good-paying job with benefits to a poverty-level one with no health insurance, dental care or pension benefits.

According to information provided by the Company, the work of cleaning the building would go to a firm, GCA Services Group, that would pay cleaning staff $9.97 an hour. While that’s slightly more than minimum wage, it is not a living wage. Workers earning that little, if they had children, would be eligible for free school lunches.

In a building full of confidential documents, where reporters’ desks hold notebooks full of sources who do not wish to be publicly identified, the Guild expressed concern about having the building maintained by people from an outside contractor who likely would have high turnover.

“As a leader in the community, we do not think the Times Union should be trying to convert good union jobs into low-wage nonunion ones,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We don’t think a newspaper that describes itself as still profitable should be letting go good employees to be replaced by people who will be able to barely make ends meet. That’s not a message that makes the Times Union look very good in the community’s eyes.”

The Guild also continued to press its case for keeping the internal printing coordinator. On Wednesday, the Company acknowledged that it had sharply underestimated the number of jobs Mark DeCenzo has performed. After the union showed Mark had done 284 jobs last year, not the 180 the Company counted, the TU’s attorney returned with its third sheet calculating the alleged “cost savings” of moving the work to the Hearst paper in Danbury, Conn.

International Representative Jim Schaufenbil said the Company was engaging in “fuzzy math” and constantly trying to fix its numbers to get to the same result.

The union also provided telling information to the Company. This past Friday, the TU attempted to send a print job of 31,000 fliers for the circulation department to Danbury hoping to get them returned by Wednesday. On Monday morning, the print shop in Danbury sent a note saying it would be unable to fill the order in time. A second e-mail was sent, asking the Danbury shop if it could provide the material by Thursday instead. This time, there  was no reply.

“One of the very first times the TU sought to get printed material from the Danbury shop, they not only were unable to do the job but they didn’t even reply to an e-mail,” O’Brien said. And while the TU has said they could use the Danbury shop to print four-color documents, a recent attempt to do so was rebuffed by Danbury, whose staff said its four-color press was too backed up.

The Company acknowledged that the information discovered by the union was true, but they were still arguing that outsourcing the print shop work there made sense.

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