Bargaining Bulletin #3:
The Albany Newspaper Guild and the Times Union opened negotiations for a new contract Wednesday at the newspaper’s offices in Colonie.
The Guild was represented by President Ken Crowe, Vice President Ty Stewart and Shop Steward Wendy Liberatore. Sitting across the table representing the Company were Ruth Fantasia, executive Human Resources director; Dan Couto, vice president of operations and integrated services; and Melinda Jermison, human resources business partner.
Both sides offered comprehensive proposals and agreed to issue a joint statement. The Company has sent the statement to your Times Union email. The statement is included below.
Ken Crowe started the bargaining by reading an opening statement. Ken said:
The Albany Newspaper Guild elected an Executive Board to bargain a new contract. It’s good to be back at the bargaining table after such a long hiatus.
Guild and Company leaders have met many times since mid-2019. We have established open and frank communications. Together we have dealt with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During that time, the Guild has expressed its view that the Times Union is becoming a destination media company where people will want to work. The Times Union has the potential to be the dominant media in print and online between Buffalo and Boston and New York City and Montreal.
What defines a company is how it treats its employees. The Guild and the Company have the opportunity to make the Times Union an even better place to work and serve the mission of protecting our democracy.
Our unit members have gone 15 years since their last contractual raise. Without increased pay they have seen their spending power cut by 31 percent through the end of 2021. This year, 2022, inflation continues to take a high toll on our members’ financial resources.
Our members have told us what they want in a new contract. They want job security and stronger seniority. They want higher wages, a better and secure retirement package, and better and affordable health care. They want the ability to work remotely, have more time to spend with their families, and to deal with the increasing stresses of their jobs.
Also important to them is to see a commitment to creating a more diverse workforce at the Times Union, and recognizing the diversity of those currently employed, by supporting them in celebrating their culture and heritage.
It’s time to bargain a new contract.
The Guild’s contract proposal was based on the contract survey we conducted earlier this year, reviews of other The NewsGuild/Communication Workers of America (TNG/CWA) locals’ contracts, the benefits that managers and other unions at the Times Union receive and in-depth discussions by Executive Board members that have been ongoing for more than a year.
Melissa Nelson, former Albany Guild president and TNG/CWA director of contracts, has been assisting our local. We have access to TNG/CWA legal advice and other resources.
The start of negotiations in June is historically the month in which we begin bargaining. Both the Guild and the Company also followed tradition in reserving presentation of the wage proposals until a later date.
Here is the joint statement issued by the Guild and the Company after the first day of bargaining:
Representatives from the Company and the Albany Newspaper Guild met today for the first time in years to discuss a new contract. Both sides presented long, far-ranging proposals encompassing all aspects of working at the Times Union. There is much hard work ahead of us to reach an agreement. Both sides look forward to the challenge and the open discussions to follow.
The next date for negotiations is Wednesday, June 15. Local members may attend negotiation sessions on their own time to observe contract talks.