The Albany Newspaper Guild is you, me and your co-worker sitting across from you. We are all stronger together when we raise our voices collectively regarding workplace issues. Below outlines your rights and the benefits secured through the contract.
The National Labor Relations Act guarantees your federal right to organize and participate in a union.
That same federal law prohibits an employer from interfering with, restraining or coercing an employee in the exercise of these rights. This means your supervisor cannot discourage you from joining the Guild, nor can you be terminated or disciplined for any involvement with the union. The employer cannot promise a benefit in return for you not participating in the union nor ask about your thoughts or activities with the union.
Please notify Guild members immediately if you believe this has happened to you or a colleague.
Has your supervisor ever asked you to meet and you worry the meeting will be disciplinary in nature?
You have the right to union representation, but you must exercise your right and ask for that representation. You can ask for the rep any time during a meeting, including when a “friendly chat” turns to questions on your job performance.
Don’t sign anything!
Remember what Mom and Dad told you because the fine print matters. Contact a Guild representative to have anything supervisors are asking you to sign reviewed and a fair understanding of what is being asked or alleged in the document.
Do you enjoy your time off?
Who doesn’t? Thanks to the Guild’s negotiations, after two years with the Times Union you accrue 3 weeks of vacation with 4 at 10 years. You start off with two weeks of vacation time. Every year you get two personal days and a makeup day for Martin Luther King Day.
The Guild also ensures full-time employees are given two continuous days off every seven days. If you’re asked to work a sixth or seventh day during your work week, you’re entitled to time and one-half pay.
You also are guaranteed a one-hour lunch period, so take it! The Company is only paying you for a 7.5 hour workday.
You can use your sick time to take care of family members!
Thanks to the Guild, you get 10 days of sick time annually. Unused sick time accrues in case you need time. Plus your co-workers can donate sick time if you run out. Also, you can use your sick time to take care of a sick child or family member.
Do you make commissions as a salesperson?
In the early 1990s, the Guild secured the right to appoint members to a Commission Committee to consult with the Company over any commission plan changes. The Guild president names he committee members with an eye toward members in good standing. With more involvement from those in the advertising department, the Guild hopes to make this committee stronger and address issues as they arise.
You can’t be arbitrarily laid off!
The Company must approach the Guild first indicating their plans for reducing the workforce, giving Guild members the opportunity to present alternatives to cutting staff prior to requesting buyouts. Guild members are given the opportunity to then vote on the Company’s proposed buyout, ideally avoiding layoffs by providing a severance package to those who may be close to retirement or considering a career change.
Layoffs also must be conducted in reverse seniority order, meaning the last person hired in a job title would be the first person out. The contract specifies the amount of separation pay that must be paid out for layoff or dismissal, which is equivalent to two weeks pay for every year of service.
Your pay also can’t be cut. Period.
Our contract prevents the Company from cutting pay. And it does not, despite what is portrayed by some, prohibit supervisors from giving raises to any Guild employees.
The contract also sets base pay for Guild employees. This does not prevent you form asking for a raise nor prevent supervisors from paying Guild represented employees more.
Do you have an issue to bring to the Company?
While you have the right to bring issues up to your supervisors, we encourage you to consult with a Guild steward to get guidance. You are not alone in these matters! If the dispute can’t be solved within the department, the Guild has the right to request a standing committee with the publisher to attempt to resolve the issue.
Are you planning for the future?
If you’ve been at the Times Union for five years or more, you’ll have a pension when you retire. The pension currently is set up where deferred wages fund the pension. You also can contribute to a 401K.
How much do dues cost?
Each week 1.58 percent from your base pay is deducted from your paycheck to cover international dues, negotiation and bargaining efforts, Guild social activities and overall Guild functions. Weekly Guild dues average about $15, fluctuating based on your base pay. To put it in perspective, that’s about the cost of three coffees from Starbucks.
Paying these dues protects the rights we’ve outlined, and ensures your representation in labor relations.