Albany ‘Times Union’ Ordered to Reinstate 11 Axed Employees

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By: E&P Staff

The Times Union in Albany, N.Y., violated federal labor law in 2009 when it laid off 11 employees without negotiating criteria with their union, an administrative law judge has ruled — and the newspaper has been ordered to reinstate the workers with benefits as well as back pay.

Which is not to say that the Times Union is rushing to do so.

Mark Carissimi, a Washington-based administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), presented his findings after testimony presented at a May hearing during which some of the axed employees testified.

In July 2009 11 employees were informed that their positions were being eliminated, although the company said members of the Newspaper Guild of Albany/CWA were technically on paid leave at that time as negotiations with the union wore on. Then on Sept. 11, the newspaper declared an impasse and sent layoff letters to the 11 workers.

“We were making proposals, we were offering concessions, we were being flexible, and [Hearst Co.] declared impasse on us,” Newspaper Guild of Albany/CWA President Tim O’Brien told the Times Union.

Carissimi wrote that because the Albany Newspaper Guild and the newspaper were “not at a valid impasse regarding the bargaining over the criteria for layoffs,” the company also violated federal labor law: “The unlawful unilateral change of placing the employees it was proposing for layoff on paid leave establishes a lack of good faith.”

The newspaper has appealed the ruling. “This is merely one step in that process and we plan to appeal the decision as long as it takes to get to the appropriate decision,” Times Union Publisher George Hearst told his paper in a report published Tuesday. “We do not agree with the judge’s assertion that the Times Union broke that law. That’s his opinion, but we disagree with his assessment.”

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