Guild members approve company buyout offer

Guild members approved an amended buyout offer today by a 31-1 tally. Members now have until 5 p.m. Nov. 12 to consider applying for this offer.

Applying for the offer in no way obligates the person to accept, should the company offer it. Members who sign the buyout agreement will have seven days to rescind it without consequence.

The company’s offer is two weeks pay for every year of service, with a maximum payment 62 weeks. Years of service would be calculated as of Nov. 1, 2018, and would not include fractional years. The minimum payment is be four weeks.

Concurrent health care coverage would be capped at 52 weeks, even for those who qualify for the buyout beyond 52 weeks pay. Those who choose not to accept that health care would not be bought out for any portion of the value of that declined coverage.

The application is available here: Voluntary Buyout Form 2018. The company has sole discretion over accepting or rejecting any and all buyout applications.

The company will not challenge unemployment claims. And those who accept buyout payments can preserve their unemployment eligibility if they hold their release form until 22 days after their last day of employment and then sign it, according to Human Resources.

We suggest anyone with questions in this specific regard contact HR as well as their local state unemployment office to ensure this situation.

To receive the buyout, workers would have to sign a perpetual release that indicates the worker will make no future claims against the company.

Pension benefits and accrued benefits, such as vacation time, makeup days and personal days are guaranteed by our contract, and would be paid at the time of the buyout. Commissions would be included in the buyout calculation for advertising sales staff.

The buyout is being pursued as part of the company’s stated intention to seek an unspecified reduction in staffing before the end of 2018.  The company has not revealed the extent of this potential reduction.

If you have any questions on your status or the buyout offer, please contact your Guild officers: Brian Nearing (x5094) Amanda Fries (x5353), Marianne Mahr (x5589), Jennifer Rodd (x5597), Rob Gavin (x5064), Mark Hempstead (x5675), and Jeff Boyer (x5429)

Here is the company’s language on the buyout offer:

  1. Employees who take the buyout will be given two weeks’ pay for every year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks’ and a maximum of 62 weeks’ pay. Years of service are to be calculated as of Nov. 1, 2018 and will not contain fractions of years. Any differentials an employee would normally receive will be included in the calculation. For employees who receive commissions, commissions would be calculated on a 52-week average starting Nov. 1, 2017.
  2. Employees will receive health insurance for the same period as the buyout period up to a maximum of 52 weeks. If an employee chooses not to take health insurance, there will be no buyout for 2019.
  3. Employees will remain eligible for the pension benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled to or vested in.
  4. Employees will receive all accrued benefits including unpaid vacation, makeup days and personal days.
  5. The company will not challenge claims for unemployment, provided the employee answers the employment questionnaire truthfully and accurately.
  6. If selected for the program, employees must sign a Release to receive any compensation or benefits associated with participation in the Voluntary Buyout program. 
  7. Although all Guild members are eligible, the Times Union retains full discretion to accept or reject each applicant.

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