Liberatore appointed Local Secretary
Wendy Liberatore has been appointed unanimously by the local Executive Board as secretary of the Albany Newspaper Guild, Local 31034, TNG-CWA.
Wendy works as a reporter for the Times Union covering Saratoga County.
Wendy has been active as a shop steward, providing advice and serving as a key member of the local’s bargaining team. Wendy completed training in May in Buffalo at the Cornell Industrial Labor Relations School program.
Wendy joins the Executive Board immediately and will serve the remaining months of former local secretary Massarah Mikati, who left to join the Philadelphia Inquirer where she is now a member of the Philadelphia Guild.
Bargaining is Smooth then Rough
Bargaining Bulletin #8:
The Albany Newspaper Guild and the Times Union reviewed language in tentative agreements on Holidays and Employee Section and the Funeral Leave Section on Tuesday.
The Guild and Company bargaining teams continued to hold extensive discussions on expenses. While the Company wants expenses to be filed within 90 days, the Guild is seeking language that the expenses are paid as soon as possible after being filed.
The Guild had proposed free digital subscriptions being provided to employers. Since the Guild proposed this in June, the Hearst Corp. has extended free access to employees to all newspapers.
Discussion continued about cell phones, reimbursements, equipment and increasing insurance reimbursement for district managers.
Both sides also discussed providing short term disability insurance to Guild members and the status of banked unused sick time.
Bargaining turned away from an easy exchange of positions when the Company presented a written proposal to take the advertising sales force out of the bargaining unit.
Guild President Ken Crowe made it clear that this would not happen. Under federal labor law, the composition of our bargaining unit is not subject to mandatory bargaining. The Guild will not bargain away unit members.
The Advertising Department has been part of the Albany Newspaper Guild since at least the early 1940s. Over the years it has produced some of best presidents — Chris Cunningham and Melissa Nelson. The Guild Executive Board and activists have reached out to all Advertising Department unit members to tell them that we will stand by them and will not abandon them. They recognize the protections of being covered by a union.
The Company was told explicitly that the National Labor Relations Act covers our position, which was reviewed by our lawyer. The Guild gave the Company a letter to substantiate our verbal remarks.
We will stand firm and fight any attempt to attack the composition of our local.
Remember a motto that we have stood by for years — UNITED WE’RE STRONG.
More Holidays and Expanded Funeral Leave
Bargaining Bulletin #7:
The Albany Newspaper Guild and the Times Union reached a tentative agreement Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, that Guild unit members will receive Presidents Day and Juneteenth off as holidays.
The Guild agreed that members working on holidays will be paid the normal holiday rate of 2.5 times their pay but that time work can no longer be banked as a future day off.
In addition, bereavement leave has been expanded to ten days for spouses, significant others, and children. For all other relatives, as outlined in the contract, five days of leave will be permitted. This is an improvement over the three days that had been allowed.
In ongoing negotiating, the company returned to pushing for a management rights clause. The Guild’s initial review was nearly two months ago when the company presented its proposal. At that time, the Guild found the proposal to be greatly overreaching and saw the proposed language as undermining the contract.
Improved Vacation Time
Bargaining Bulletin #6:
It will take fewer years to get more vacation time under a tentative agreement reached by the Albany Newspaper Guild and the Times Union negotiating teams.
Long-time employees will no longer have to wait until their 25th year of employment to get five weeks of vacation. That will kick in after the 14th anniversary. New employees will receive their first two weeks immediately. Three weeks of vacation comes after two years of working and four weeks after nine years.
The vacation agreement was among three contract sections agreed to after bargaining resumed following a month’s hiatus due to vacations and the start of printing of the Hearst Connecticut papers at the Times Union.
Besides the Vacation Section, both sides reached agreements on language in the Overtime Wage Rate and the Guild Shop Sections.
“After 13 years without bargaining on a new contract, we are making steady progress. We have reached agreement on 12 contract sections and have held in-depth discussion on many more,” said Local President Ken Crowe, who has been at the table with Vice President Ty Stewart and Shop Steward Wendy Liberatore.
Extensive discussions have been held on getting more holidays add to the contract, expanding funeral leave, expenses, driving records and cell phones. Both sides have also talked about improving diversity.
The next bargaining sessions have been scheduled for the first and second weeks of August.
Guild and Times Union See Progress
Bargaining Bulletin #5:
The Albany Newspaper Guild and the Times Union reached verbal tentative agreements on nine contract sections Thursday as bargaining for a new contract continued.
The sections include Non-Discrimination, Disputes Adjustment, Strike and Lockout, Military Service, Outside Activity, Experience Credit, No Pay Cuts, Bulletin Boards, and Individual Increases.
The Guild negotiating team of President Ken Crowe, Vice President Ty Stewart, and Steward Wendy Liberatore said the agreements and the discussions on other topics showed that the Guild and Times Union teams are making progress.
The Company presented counter-proposals to those made by the Guild on short-term and long-disability insurance and vacation time,
Extensive talks were held about the Guild’s proposal to include our Diversity Committee Report as a side letter to the contract and the creation of the Senator George Hearst/Heywood Broun Fellowships to increase diversity in the Times Union workforce and encouraging internships with pay and educational credit. In response to Company questions, the Guild said it would work jointly with management in seeking out candidates. Company representatives pointed out that many of the diversity initiatives have been put into effect by management.
The Times Union provided an explanation of what is considered gross misconduct which could be used for firing a Guild unit member without receiving severance. Some examples include misuse of confidential information, offering or accepting bribes, a severe breach of health & safety regulations, serious insubordination, discrimination or harassment, setup of a competing business, intentional property damage, causing loss, damage, or injury through negligence, and using company equipment to access pornographic or offensive material.
Bargaining will break for three weeks due to previously scheduled vacations on both sides. Negotiations resume on Wednesday, July 13.