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Albany Times Union settles with Newspaper Guild

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in Firing,Human Resources

The Albany Times Union and the union representing its employees have reached a settlement following a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that the newspaper violated federal labor law when it laid off three employees in the fall of 2009.

At the time, no collective bargaining agreement was in place, the previous one having expired. The paper and the Newspaper Guild were negotiating a new agreement when the newspaper placed three employees on paid leave and escorted them from the building 45 days before their official termination date.

The paper’s managers claim they selected the employees based on productivity and attitude, among other factors. The previous collective bargaining agreement required layoffs to be based on seniority.

The Newspaper Guild filed a grievance with the NLRB, claiming the paper effectively signaled that it wouldn’t negotiate the layoff issue in good faith. In a May 2011 decision, the NLRB agreed. When the Times Union failed to act, the guild filed a complaint in federal court to force compliance. The parties began negotiating in earnest at that point.

Under the settlement, eight em­­ployees waived reinstatement but re­­ceived full back pay and compensation for lost pension and medical benefits. Three employees were offered reinstatement and also received back pay and had their benefits restored.

In all, the Times Union paid more than $800,000 to the affected employees.

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