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Times Union wants to outsource business office and other Guild updates

A message from the President

I’d like to take the time to highlight the people truly behind the staffing and general operations at the Times Union. You probably already know, but it bears a special letter just for them – the Hearst Corporation. 

They’re a special group of folks led by President and CEO Steve Swartz, who is also the vice-chairman of the Business Roundtable. 

The Business Roundtable last month put out a statement redefining the purpose of corporations, in essence stating their commitment is no longer just to shareholders but to “all stakeholders.” Members of the chief executives group say it’s time to invest in their employees, support the communities they work in and “deal fairly and ethically” with suppliers. 

::slow clap::

Swartz signed on to this new mission among some of the most wealthy CEOs, and I certainly look forward to him putting his money where his mouth is. So far, that really hasn’t been the case.

I think all of us here at the Times Union can confirm that there’s been no investment in its employees for over a decade. Indeed, not only have we not received raises in over 12 years, the Company has cut and cut and cut. New, functioning equipment also is hard to come by, despite working in a media industry that demands the best, high-functioning equipment. 

As for our customers, I can confirm they’re disappointed with delivery based on the sheer number of calls, emails and general messages we receive about someone’s paper not being delivered. Please don’t get me started on the website, another thorn in our sides at the Times Union that is dictated by the Hearst Corporation. 

This is all to say that, yes, often the decisions to cut staff or reorganize a department isn’t coming from anyone in the Times Union building. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push back and demand better, especially considering the decisions being made at “the Tower” or in New York City are so haphazard I reckon a kindergartener may be at the helm. 

So while the Business Roundtable has waxed poetic about investing in their employees, I encourage everyone not to hold their breath. Instead, call out the hypocrisy and demand better. 

Yours in solidarity,

Amanda Fries
President, Albany Newspaper Guild


Company targets layoffs in business office

The Company notified Guild board members Friday that they’re looking to outsource the work done in the business office to Houston in order to save $150,000.

The news was given simultaneously to business office employees, who have been left in the lurch in recent weeks as managers began approaching employees to see if someone would be willing to transfer to a vacant position in the advertising department.

Guild board members met with employees in the business office immediately following the news and are working together to identify other options we can take to retain the work and move forward.

The Company initially had indicated to the Guild that they’d be looking to cut one person from the business office, but would save that person’s job by offering them the position in advertising. Friday’s news strayed from this initial portrayal, with executives indicating they’re looking to execute the layoffs by mid-October. 

Under the imposed conditions forced upon the Guild in 2009, the Company must first bargain with the Guild before any work can be outsourced. The Company must provide details on the costs and other benefits of outsourcing the work compared to keeping it in-house. We have requested this information from the Company, to be provided by Wednesday, Sept. 11.


No managers, exempt employees targeted for layoffs

The Company targeted Guild employees only in the recent round of layoffs that cut five Guild members from the Times Union. 

No managers, or other exempt employees at the Times Union were laid off by the Company, despite indications that executives were looking at all options to cut costs and save money. 

It’s unclear whether the Company’s latest pursuit of layoffs in the business office includes any exempt employees. 

It’s important to note those who were cut were among the least senior staff across the Times Union, one of them even a part-time employee, begging the question of what savings the Company really saw with the latest cuts. 


Less than a week until the Guild picnic

Despite the latest somber news on the decimation of Guild staff, make sure to RSVP by Wednesday, Sept. 11, for the annual Guild picnic. 

The event will be hosted from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Six Mile Waterworks park in Albany and catered by the Birch Hill Catering. 

Please let us know if you and your family members can attend so we have an accurate headcount ahead of the picnic. 

Food will include hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken and veggie burgers, along with an assortment of sides and drinks. The picnic is family-friendly and everyone is welcome, including Guild alumni and employees who may not be in good standing with the Guild.


Proactive measures taken by Guild to negotiate health insurance

The Guild plans to reach out to the Company this week to formally request information regarding health insurance.

The Company typically approaches the Guild to negotiate these matters, but it has often been at a detriment to members because of the small window given to come to a final decision. 

As we’re all well aware, health insurance costs continue to go up for our members, and the Guild is committed to getting the fairest offer for health insurance coverage.

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