After discussions with the Times Union Tuesday, the Guild made the difficult but unavoidable decision to sign off on settlements for the three workers laid off right after Christmas.
The three employees in the advertising art/marketing area were laid off in reverse order of seniority. The TU let go three of the four workers in the marketing media specialist job title. Because the newspaper eliminated “bumping rights” that would have enabled workers to return to a job they had previously done, one employee was out of a job after 12 years of service to the Times Union.
“Although we do not agree with the decision to lay off these workers, this time the Times Union followed the conditions it imposed,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said.
Last year, the Times Union was found guilty of breaking labor law by an independent hearing officer in its handling of the layoff of 12 employees. The appeal in that case, which the TU is unlikely to win, is pending before the National Labor Relations Board.
This time, the company followed the rules and, to its credit, extended health-care coverage to the workers for the same period of time as their severance. The Guild negotiated Tuesday and convinced the company to also reimburse the employees for the first $750 of the deductible. Since the employees are being made to pay their 21 percent share of health care costs, he noted, they might not get the value of insurance in the first few months of the year if they rang up less than $750 in medical bills. He also noted that the three workers, unlike remaining employees, also won’t have income from their jobs to pay the deductible.
The company agreed. With that, the parties signed off on the layoffs and no legal challenges will result.
“These three guys are not only great workers but they are my good friends,” O’Brien said. “It pains me to see them let go, and I wish there was more we could do. While we wish the Times Union had chosen to keep them employed, we do appreciate the company’s willingness to extend health-care coverage and to reimburse them for the deductible.”