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Guild members to vote on Board secretary, special limited buyout proposal

Make sure your voice is heard on the selection of a new secretary to the Albany Newspaper Guild executive board. 

Members will vote to fill the vacant post of local secretary as well as weigh in on a limited special buyout package during the local’s annual membership meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17.

The meeting will be held via ZOOM. Meeting information will be provided in a separate email. If you do not receive the information, contact the Guild office at office@albanyguild.org.

LOCAL SECRETARY ELECTION

Due to the promotion of a Guild member to an exempt management position, the Guild must fill the vacant post of local secretary. The member elected to this post will serve the remaining two years of the three-year term of office and participate in Executive Board meetings and other activities supporting the local’s mission to represent our unit members.

SPECIAL BUYOUT PROPOSAL

Members will also be asked to vote on a tentative special buyout package with the Times Union, which is limited to six members in the unit. 

The buyout, which is being offered as a voluntary option to selected employees at the Times Union, includes a minimum of 15 weeks of pay; four months of health insurance with the company paying the employee’s weekly deductible; 50 percent of the premium in a cash payment for employees who do not receive health insurance from the company; and payment of all accrued vacation, makeup and personal days. The buyout is part of a Hearst Newspaper Division offering across the newspaper chain, with the money for the buyout coming from corporate coffers.

This will not trigger Section 3 of the Guild contract involving Job Security and the beginning of blanket buyouts. The Company must notify the Guild prior to any further reductions in the workforce. 

The Contracts Committee of the NewsGuild-CWA, the entity given authority over Guild contracts and other negotiated agreements through the provisions found in the NewsGuild’s Constitution, reviewed the terms of the Albany Guild’s tentative agreement on the special buyout package Friday and has approved it for submission to the membership for a ratification vote. The local unit’s Executive Board, in an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, approved putting the special proposal to a full membership vote. 

FUTURE BUYOUTS

Publisher George Hearst informed Guild President Mandy Fries and Vice President Ken Crowe Friday afternoon that the company is planning a “restructuring” due to the economic downturn hitting newspaper revenues. 

It is likely the Company will come to the Guild before the end of the year or in early January seeking to reduce staff, however, no details have been provided on what the “restructuring” could look like. 

The buyout will be offered building-wide and will not solely impact the Guild unit members, Hearst said. The company has not yet determined a goal for its cuts. If the company doesn’t achieve its desired savings through buyouts, layoffs may follow. The corporate ban on furloughs and layoffs would have to be lifted in order for this to occur.

The local has been in contact with the International staff regarding this development and is starting preparations for buyout talks that could occur as early as October.

Advertising revenues dropped 60 percent during the deepest spending reductions brought by the coronavirus pandemic, mirroring what has occurred across the newspaper industry, the company said. While advertising has improved, it remains below what it was a year ago.

Please contact an Executive Board member if you have any questions or suggestions regarding future buyout negotiations.

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