President Mandy Fries sent Publisher George Hearst a request for a Joint Standing Committee meeting on several topics that could have a dramatic impact on all of us. We have provided George an agenda that will address issues brought forward by the Guild and the Company.
Reaching tentative agreements may result in holding a membership vote.
Clean Desk Policy
The Company has proposed a Clean Desk Policy to make it easier to clean desks. The policy at first glance calls for draconian discipline if you forget and leave something from a piece of paper to a notebook or something else on your desk. It doesn’t address if you leave something behind if sent out on an assignment or have to leave due to an emergency.
You could be fired if your desk isn’t pristine.
The Guild wants a common sense approach so no one is at risk of being fired in this proposal that would change the terms and conditions of our employment. We have consulted with the International on this issue and have been provided advice.
As part of this discussion, the Guild will ask for an update on the return to working at the main plant. The Company cancelled the July 1 meetings with employees to discuss the situation.
At the request of Publisher George Hearst, the Guild submitted a proposal on June 15 for the Times Union to make a contribution of $50 toward cell phone reimbursement for employees who never received such a contribution before.
The Guild has urged the Company for several months to make this contribution. About half the unit, or 60 people, have been using their equipment without such a payment. The Guild earlier this year convinced the Times Union to upgrade the contribution paid to the sales force so it was equal to those receiving a payment in editorial.
Further Concerns Follow OSHA Complaint
The Company recently was cited by OSHA for third-party contractors allegedly not wearing face masks at the North Greenbush depot.
In an effort to ensure the health and safety of all our members, the Guild canvassed district managers to determine if there were any other concerns. Some employees expressed concern of mold at the new Kingston depot as well as the North Greenbush depot where our district managers work. In addition, Chief Steward Rob Gavin has been investigating the apparent lack of toiletries and cleaning at the Kingston depot. We believe that the Company and the Guild should conduct a joint inspection of all depots to ensure they are clean and safe.
We requested written copies of commission plans for each department during an April 16 Joint Committee meeting. We have requested this information in previous meetings extending back into the summer of 2019.
We also have concerns that salespeople are receiving commission information for the current sales period (month) a week or more after it has begun.
The Guild requested this information as far back as early March when we learned of the Company hiring another management position on the Times Union’s digital team that had not been part of earlier discussions on the team’s expansion. We sought the information again during an April 16 meeting, and have brought it up in subsequent meetings. The Company said this information would be provided.
Circulation Department Manager
The Guild has fielded several complaints in recent months regarding the hostile work environment created by a Circulation Department manager. This has been an ongoing issue. The Guild has provided the Company copies of emails which show that the employees have been doing their work and have continuously pointed out to the manager that issues were resolved.
We will have to conduct a membership vote on a proposed clean desk policy. The Guild would like to use the Times Union parking lot to facilitate that vote.
The ballot may also include language for a bylaws change to permit holding online voting. This is done in locals that represent the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal, for example.
In addition, the Executive Board will determine if the election can be held to fill the vacant position of local secretary.