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Guild, Times settle disputes of those who challenged layoffs

03/11/2015

New York Guild President Bill O’Meara is pleased to announce that the union and The Times have settled disputes and avoided arbitration over all 14 Guild members who initially challenged their layoffs of late last year through the contract’s grievance process. Six others who were laid off had decided not to grieve their dismissals.

While the terms of the agreement are confidential, it included financial packages for each of our former colleagues that they all found acceptable.

“The Guild felt confident in prevailing through the arbitration process,” said Unit Chair Grant Glickson. “But we believe that a settlement was in the best interest of our members, who can now take their considerable talents and move on in their careers without going through a grueling legal battle.”

In the aftermath of losing 77 members during the Newsroom downsizing late last year, mostly through lucrative voluntary buyouts, the Guild worked hard to prepare cases for those who were committed to going to arbitration after they were let go against their will and without regard to their seniority. The heart of the dispute centered on job performance and the skills and abilities of those who were laid off.

Based on the Guild’s reading of hundreds of performance reviews, it seemed that The Times had made mistakes in deciding who to let go. We also suspect that a handful of people were laid off because of their higher-than-normal salaries. In addition, some were dismissed because management felt their specific role wasn’t needed anymore, but the Guild believed those employees should have been transferred to other desks or beats.

One of the more disappointing aspects of this process was the inconsistent advice given by department managers after the masthead repeatedly recommended that employees have “frank discussions” with supervisors to see where they stood. Some managers provided accurate information when employees asked for assessments, but others offered misleading or unhelpful feedback.

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