Company denies open, inclusive diversity committee process

Times Union management has dismissed the Guild’s calls for an inclusive and transparent process in building a company constituted Diversity Committee.

After learning managers were quietly picking individuals to serve on the Company’s Diversity Committee, the Albany Newspaper Guild sent a letter to Publisher George Hearst and Human Resources Director Ruth Fantasia requesting that the efforts for forming the committee be a joint labor-management effort.

The pair responded by insinuating that the Guild was excluding other labor unions representing employees at the Times Union.

“Diversity and Inclusion should not simply be a Guild-management or labor-management initiative,” Ruth and George wrote in the response. “In order to be successful, the work of the various committee(s) must be all-encompassing and culture-altering. For that reason we believe a Joint Committee meeting with the Guild, to the exclusion of other groups, could be detrimental. We welcome the suggestions of the Guild, as we do those of all our unions and non-union groups, and we will insist on a structure that treats all communities fairly.”

The Guild did not request a Joint Committee meeting – the mechanism afforded to members to resolve issues – nor did we suggest other labor unions should not be included in the process. We requested a joint “labor-management” committee process to ensure ALL Times Union employees (including our colleagues represented by other labor unions at the paper) were part of the formation of this important committee.

The Company touted its Diversity Committee as an “employee-led” initiative, however, selection of who is on the committee was dictated by top executives at the Times Union and the opportunity was not given to all interested employees.

While we are happy to see that some Guild members will be part of the company’s Diversity Committee, we are disappointed that management did not make the process and formation inclusive. We hope the Company will be transparent and provide regular updates regarding its committee’s formation, plans for meeting and overall efforts.

The Guild has learned that the committee is set to meet Monday, Aug. 3, however, the Company has not announced who is on the committee or the plans to meet.

In the meantime, the Guild’s Diversity Committee — which has already begun drafting recommendations to improve diversity in the workplace and our news coverage — will continue their commitment to creating an inclusive workplace that is welcoming to all.

Those recommendations include connecting with local schools and universities to create a paid internship program, reimagining the Times Union’s crime coverage and addressing implicit bias in interviewing and hiring, among others. The Guild’s Diversity Committee will be rolling out a letter with all the proposed recommendations in the next few weeks and will need all of your support, so be on the lookout!

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