Members approve buyout offer; deadline is next Friday
Guild members approved a buyout offer Thursday, and those who wish to take it have until next Friday to apply.
The vote was 51-3, with turnout heavy among editorial employees, who are being targeted for the buyout, and light from other departments.
The offer includes three weeks of pay for every year of service, with a minimum of 15 weeks’ pay and a maximum of one year’s income. People would receive health care for the same period. Those who opt out of health care would get 15 percent of the net premium, prorated based on the number of weeks’ pay and minus a 21 percent share of the costs.
Employees who take the buyout would not have to pay the $750 health care deductible, and their share of the health care costs would stay at 21 percent.
The company has agreed not to challenge claims for unemployment.
Publisher George Hearst has said he is looking to trim six to nine positions, with editorial and exempt employees being the focus of the reductions. Exempt managers also have been given until next Friday to apply. Guild-covered employees in other departments can apply but Hearst has said those are not the targeted areas.
Guild members who are thinking of retiring should ask Carole Hess for an estimate of what their pension would be.
The company has the right to decide who is given the buyout. Members who apply do have a window in which they can change their minds. The Times Union has said it wants the workers to leave by December 31 to be off the books for 2012.
Carole Hess will send out an email to employees with information and an application form.
Kenneth C. Crowe II
How many applied?
At least seven people applied, with two of those in editorial and a possible third who asked to think about it over the weekend. I spoke to the publisher today but he could not yet say whether this would avoid layoffs. We do know some exempts also applied. As I told colleagues in the newsroom today, I am optimistic we may avoid layoffs.