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Paid parental leave, fighting for the industry and continuing to work for our members

A Message from the President:

Just because we may be apart, doesn’t mean the Guild isn’t working for you. 

During these unprecedented times, your Executive Board has been in constant dialogue with Times Union management to ensure workers are protected as we navigate life amid the coronavirus. 

While many other news outlets across the country have announced furloughs and layoffs, Times Union management and the Hearst Corporation have indicated employees’ jobs are safe and have expanded protections to workers as the Guild comes forward with various concerns. I’m happy to say these dialogues are cordial and productive, and I’m truly thankful for the support the Company has given employees. You can learn more about them deeper in this newsletter.

The Company also agreed with the Guild to increase the stipend provided to advertising representatives, which members should have seen reflected in their most recent paycheck. Management now is weighing expanding that stipend to all Guild members working from home during this time at the recommendation of the Guild. 

Times Union Publisher George Hearst also informed the Guild the Times Union will be launching a branding campaign that will include TV commercials emphasizing the important role we play in keeping the community informed, particularly during the pandemic. It just so happens the Guild also plans to run an ad in the Times Union recognizing the incredible work our members do. 

With everything that is going on in the world, it’s refreshing to be working with management to protect and support employees during this time. As always, I encourage you to reach out if you are having an issue, so we can work together toward a resolution. Those who spend even a little bit of time with me know I love the saying, “teamwork makes the dream work,” but those words couldn’t be truer right now.  

We are all in this together. 

Yours in solidarity,

Amanda Fries

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The Guild fights to save the newspaper industry

The NewsGuild Executive Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for federal, state, provincial, and local governments to provide public funds to sustain news operations.  

Our executive board endorsed the program proposed by our International after participating in a lengthy teleconference involving 70 local Guild leaders, international officers and staff on March 28.  

Earlier this year TNG-CWA President Jon Schleuss visited us. Many of us had the opportunity to chat with Jon.

Our union was born out of the Great Depression. Journalists banded together to secure fair wages and rights at newspapers across the country during a time of national crisis.

It was a bold act that many thought wasn’t possible. Many publishers opposed the move, claiming that allowing journalists to form unions would restrict their First Amendment rights.

In this crisis, it is time again to take bold action. Jon said in announcing the program that the goal is twofold: 

  • Save and protect the jobs in the news industry now without supporting hedge funds and private equity groups who pillaged our workforce.
  • Seed a future that promotes a sustainable news industry supported by the public.

This would come from a very likely additional stimulus package in the coming weeks. As Guild leaders, we know this is a strange place for our union. But our critical reporting in the face of declining ad revenue, furloughs, and layoffs shows how essential we are to public safety.

We are one of the Guild’s original locals. We just celebrated our 86th birthday on March 20.  Newspaper workers always go above and beyond during a crisis. It’s time to do it again.

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Local assists two members

The local went to bat for two members on issues.

In one case, we helped a member with issues over childcare and work.

In the second case, we dealt with a supervisor going to a member’s residence on his day off when he is taking care of his children. The supervisor was uninvited.  

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Guild agrees to paid parental leave, extension of childcare benefits

A day after the Guild notified management of childcare concerns for our members, Hearst CEO Steve Swartz sent out a letter company wide announcing two weeks of paid parental leave for those who are struggling with childcare.

The Guild agreed with this measure and requested that Times Union employees be able to divide the two-week paid time into hours to allow for flexibility in managing work duties along with homeschooling children and other personal responsibilities. Management said they will accommodate employees taking parental leave on an hourly basis.

The Company is extending access to Bright Horizons and emergency care provisions for an additional 30 days as well. The benefit provides reimbursement for childcare services for essential workers locally, or allows you to select someone who does not live with you to serve as the caregiver of your child(ren). For more information, contact the Times Union’s Human Resources Department, or visit Bright Horizons website to see if you qualify.

Hearst has also stressed that managers are to be flexible and work with employees to accommodate needs under these unprecedented circumstances. The Guild looks forward to these efforts continuing and board members stand ready to assist you in working with management.

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The Guild takes out ad in Times Union

On Sunday April 12, a full-page ad will appear in the Times Union and online celebrating our local members’ work during the coronavirus pandemic.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a list of essential businesses, only one had its own category alone – 6. News Media.

The Albany Newspaper Guild executive board voted unanimously to take out the ad. We want the rest of the Capital Region to know we’re working for them. 

Our local is ensuring the news is delivered in print and online. Ad salespeople are helping businesses tell their story and remind their customers they’re ready to serve. District managers and circulation sales reps are connecting with our customers to ensure newspapers are delivered to their front door or on their computers, laptops and tablets. Reporters and photographers are collecting the stories and pictures to tell our readers. Copy editors are laying out and editing stories and photos. The digital team is working on the online presentation.

We want the Capital Region to know how essential we are to them. We want them to know that the Times Union’s Advertising, Business, Circulation, Digital, Editorial and Maintenance departments are working through this pandemic.

We’re scattered in our homes, some still at the main building and others in the depots.  

The Executive Board felt taking out the ad would be a direct way to the readers to let them know who’s working for them.

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Tips and tricks during the coronavirus pandemic

We remind everyone to be careful when they go out to shop. You may want to consider having items delivered.

It’s hard to find some items like paper goods, eggs and bread. Sometimes you can find them by going to smaller community stores, Stewart’s or hardware stores rather than grocery stores.

Union Plus which provides discounts, business services and information to union members has provided highlights of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) so you don’t have to read the 883 pages in the legislation. Go to http://www.unionplus.org.

Also take the opportunity to see services available to you as a union member. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has updated advice during this time:

  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

You can find additional recommendations on the CDC’s website

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