The Guild has met four times with the Company to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and its impact at the Times Union.
Friday, March 20, the Guild and the Company reached agreement on 26 weeks of sick leave for unit members who contract coronavirus and are out.
The Guild also agreed to the extension of the telemedicine program benefit, the United Concierge Medicine service, to all employees. This will occur through the end of June and then will be re-evaluated for extension of the coverage. This is a non-precedential agreement due to the emergency circumstances.
President Amanda Fries and Vice President Ken Crowe met with Publisher George Hearst, Associate Publisher Pat Richardson and Human Resources Director Ruth Fantasia.
Coronavirus tests costs are being waived by the Company’s insurance provider, Ruth confirmed Friday. Other aspects of health coverage during this crisis are being examined and could change depending on state and federal measures taken.
George told us that the Times Union’s coverage of the coronavirus is supported in the community. Digital subscriptions have increased strongly. Advertising is retooling to deal with the changing marketplace.
The Guild leadership decided in February to contact George and Ruth to meet about the developing coronavirus crisis. The first two meetings were face-to-face in George’s office. The third and fourth meetings were held via teleconference reflecting how the situation has changed.
The Guild raised concerns about sick leave, taking care of sick family members, working remotely, protection for members working out in the field and extended sick time for anyone who became infected with the coronavirus. The discussions have been open, frank and collegiate.
The Guild is happy to report that each of the concerns have been addressed. Nearly everyone is now working remotely. There are only about six people working in the Times Union building on Albany Shaker Road and the district mangers continue to work from the depots.
Hearst made it clear that the Company supports unit members having to care for children home from school and sick family members during the work day.
The Guild and the Company cleared up problems with a supervisor not adhering to work schedule language and worked out issues for photographers avoiding potentially dangerous exposure to coronavirus on assignments and two people in advertising with compromised immune systems. The Company said that the coronavirus emergency would be taken into account for members on performance improvement plans.
Guild employees who may be experiencing issues amid the health crisis can contact the Guild’s point person on coronavirus matters. Ken may be reached at 518-505-0610 or email@example.com.
Guild leadership also is in regular contact with the international office, which is providing guidance during the coronavirus pandemic and offering assistance when possible.