With little notice, Company plans to layoff 8 Guild members, other staff

The Times Union has chosen to ignore a 45-day window for notifying the Albany Newspaper Guild about layoffs and informed board members Tuesday they will dismiss eight Guild employees beginning Wednesday, June 26.

Executive Board members urged the Company to consider offering another round of buyouts since the Guild was not informed in writing that layoffs would ensue if there weren’t enough buyouts, but the Company has refused, instead invoking their ability to provide 45 days pay to those who are laid off rather than allow the Guild to attempt to mitigate the need for layoffs through alternative measures.

Previously the Company did not provide a head-count or dollar figure for how much they needed to cut, but indicated to board members Tuesday that the reduction in the workforce is needed to address a 15 percent drop in business (compared to last year for the first half of the year).

Although four Guild members applied for buyouts, only two were accepted by the Company.

Albany Newspaper Guild President Amanda Fries expressed disappointment in the Company’s lack of transparency and good faith in negotiations.

“To think a 2 p.m. meeting (sent four hours beforehand) with board members on the eve of planned layoffs is sufficient notification and negotiating in good faith with the Guild and its members is deplorable,” she said. “Open and honest dialogue between management and employees has been lacking for years, and I won’t stand for it. While the Company may be swinging the ax, it’s imperative members come together at this time and push back as much as possible.”

Official notification of layoffs comes to the Guild less than two weeks from when the Company gave a June 7 deadline for people to apply for buyouts. Guild members approved the buyout offer on May 29.

Imposed conditions indicate “the Company shall provide the Guild with 45 days notice and will attempt to negotiate a buyout agreement.” However, the Company is opting to provide 45 days of pay to those who are laid off.

The Company has said layoffs will be done via seniority, as stipulated in the Guild contract and for which the Times Union came under fire in 2009 for not abiding by.

The Guild is working to determine if the Company’s seniority lists are accurate. Those who have questions and concerns regarding their position should contact board members.

An unspecified number of non-Guild employees also will be laid off.

Employees who are laid off will be given 45 days pay in lieu of the notice, and they will receive severance based on dismissal pay outlined in Section 6-A of the Guild contract. Health insurance would also be paid for an equal number of weeks as dismissal pay.

The Company will pay a year of health care or $1,000 to employees who do not have it through the Company.

The Company has three openings it wants to fill, and those who are targeted for layoffs will get the opportunity to apply for the following and retain employment:

  • Part-time NIS desk associate
  • Full-time obituary legal position
  • Temporary (one-year) position in advertising handling obituaries and automotive.
This post has been updated to clarify the position of the Company.

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