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Guild Newsletter: New Guild position created amid 2 layoffs, coronavirus precautions taken, and more

A message from the President

It’s with a heavy heart that I bring you the latest newsletter as it contains notice of the Company’s plans to lay off two part-time Guild employees who currently staff the reception desk in the Times Union lobby. 

While I recognize the business decision behind this, it flies in the face of the Company’s continued efforts to boost its management ranks. 

I also recognize how the Company’s actions continue to deplete employee morale and fuel uncertainty in a business already plagued with unknowns, and have expressed this strongly to management.

While the Company has created one new Guild-protected position, it has elected to hire another management position for the Times Union newsroom’s digital team and promoted one Guild-member to management on the print side of the newsroom. 

The third management editor post on the digital team came as a surprise as management did not discuss this during last year’s talks about expanding digital operations. While this may be their right, it does not promote transparency and collaboration between the Company and its employees, nor does it encourage growth among the current staff. This management position is on top of another digital hire bargained with the Guild last year, director of audience, which the Company plans to fill. 

Management also informed the Guild they do not plan to fill a Guild-protected position bargained with the Executive Board last year, the position of data/business and intelligence analyst on the TU’s digital team. 

We have requested the Company provide updated organizational charts for all Times Union departments. 

We also are reviewing the recent communication from the Hearst Corporation to provide one-time bonuses to rank-and-file employees across Hearst-owned newspapers. The Guild is evaluating this and other matters with our International Guild representative and former Albany Guild President Melissa Nelson. 

International Guild President Jon Schleuss who visited us in January has pledged his full support to the Guild and recognizes the local’s longstanding legacy. 

I could not think of a better time for all of us to unite and be working together for a better workplace because there is certainly power
in numbers.

Yours in solidarity,

Amanda Fries
President, Albany Newspaper Guild


Company seeks to layoff 2 part-time Guild members, creates new position

The Company intends to lay off two part-time Guild employees who have been the face of the Times Union for visitors to the building on Albany-Shaker Road.

We are meeting with the Company on Friday to discuss the situation.

The Company said it is taking these measures to reduce costs, and will be setting up a self-service lobby at the Hearst Media Center entrance where visitors can drop off payments and connect with any department or person they are here to meet. In the same breath, the Times Union would like to create a new Guild position, marketing analyst. Management says this position would analyze advertising and marketing data and advise on the most “lucrative targets” and possible new products. We agreed to this new job title.

The Company also sought to amend the titles of two Guild members, which the Guild’s Executive Board refused to accept. The company didn’t want to upgrade the salaries for the titles in the contract. The Guild sees this approach as a roundabout way of reasoning providing select individuals with raises while thwarting the contract 120 employees continue to work under. We always encourage and support merit raises for our Guild members, but do not believe it should be done under the caveat of a title change.


Guild works with Company on preventative measures amid coronavirus outbreak

As residents test positive for the novel coronavirus in the Capital Region, the Guild is working with the Company to ensure employees are protected during the outbreak.

Talks are ongoing on how the company will ensure employees are not penalized if they are infected by COVID-19, including provisions that ensure Times Union employees can work from home and have enough paid sick time to cover extended absences.

The Company has indicated to the Guild that managers are still identifying essential employees (those who must report to the Times Union building) while updating its disaster recovery plan.

Vice President Ken Crowe will serve as our point person on the coronavirus. If you have questions, suggestions or issues contact Ken via phone or text at 518-505-0610 or email at croweken@hotmail.com.


Guild member promotion leaves vacancy on Executive Board

The Executive Board and all Guild members bid Lauren Stanforth, who served on the board as secretary, a good luck in her new post as suburban editor of the newsroom at the Times Union. Stanforth has accepted the promotion to lead a

group of reporters in the newsroom as suburban editor, which took effect March 8.

This means the Guild is looking for a fresh face to fill the position on the Executive Board. The role of secretary is vital in keeping records of all Guild functions and helping to advance the overall mission of the Guild.

The secretary not only keeps diligent notes during Board meetings, but is a voting member on the Executive Board. This is an opportunity to have your voice heard and help the Guild build its public presence through public posting of meeting minutes and agendas, revival of social media pages and offering up ideas to advance our goals. Those interested can reach out to office@albanyguild.org to learn more on how to get involved. The date, time and location of an annual Guild meeting to have a special vote for the secretary position will be announced later.


Recommendations for in-person sexual harassment training, additional measures offered

The Guild has recommended the Times Union host an in-person sexual harassment training course for managers and employees through SHRM, or a similar program.

Along with this in-person training, we have also emphasized additional measures that should be taken to ensure a harassment-free and inclusive workplace, including designating a Human Resources official to handle all complaints, creating an anonymous reporting platform, and posting of the Times Union’s anti-harassment policy conspicuously across departments, among other recommendations.


Celebrating 86 years as the Albany Newspaper Guild

It was March 20, 1934 when the American Newspaper Guild chartered its first locals. The Albany Newspaper Guild, then called the Tri-City Newspaper Guild of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, became Local 34.

We’re marking 86 years as a local this year. Look for an announcement about a celebration on our March 20th birthday.

We’re part of The News Guild and a sector in the Communications Workers of America. Our local number is now 31034. Our contract and benefits are built on the work accomplished by our fellow members over 86 years of hard work.

Legendary New York World-Telegram columnist Heywood Broun wrote a column on Aug. 7, 1933 that launched the Guild. Our union started in newsrooms then spread throughout newspaper operations to include advertising, circulation, business offices and now digital operations. “Up against management unaided, the individual worker is bound to lose every time. Only in union is there strength for workers,” wrote Joan Campion in The Guild Reporter in 1988.

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