Albany newspaper repays those laid off

Michael P. Tremoglie Jul. 17, 2012, 6:00am

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - The Times Union newspaper of Albany has offered to reinstate three employees and pay more than $800,000 in past wages and interest to 11 employees who were laid off.

The layoffs occurred in the fall of 2009 in order to settle a case taken up by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB ruled in May 2011 that the paper violated federal labor law by laying off the employees - from the editorial, marketing and advertising departments - without properly bargaining with the Newspaper Guild of Albany. The newspaper put the employees on paid leave and escorted them from the building 45 days before they were officially laid off.

The employees were not chosen by seniority but were graded by supervisors on numerous attributes including productivity and attitude. This practice violated the contract with the Guild.

The newspaper told the Guild of its actions and offered to bargain over the selection criteria after informing the laid off employees that they needed to leave the building. But the contract was expired and negotiations were being conducted. Criteria for layoffs had not been established.

But the Guild maintained that bargaining about the selection criteria would be pointless since the paper purportedly made it that by removing the employees and making it clear that their decision had been made. The NLRB agreed.

The newspaper allegedly did not comply with the NLRB order and in December 2011, the Board filed an application for enforcement with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The parties then entered settlement negotiations through the court's mediation program, leading to the agreement.

Eight employees waived reinstatement but received full back pay plus compounded interest, and were also made whole for loss of pension and medical benefits, for the period from their September 2009 layoff to April 2012. Three employees were offered reinstatement and also received back pay, benefits restoration and interest.

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