Outsourcing meeting postponed, NLRB will hear about it
Guild to file charge against S&P
A meeting of the Unit Council and members of the Client Services Department, whose jobs are slated to be outsourced, originally scheduled for Monday, August 6, has postponed after Standard & Poor’s refused to allow it.
As a result, the Guild is in the process of filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) encompassing that refusal and a variety of other issues surrounding the outsourcing.
The Bayview Room was booked by Unit Chair Ed Fannon for the meeting and it appeared there would be no hitch until Local Representative Bob Townsend received an email from Workforce Initiatives Manager Laura Katsanos on Wednesday, August 1. In it, she claimed “the Company has customarily allowed the Guild to use its facilities only for those meetings designed to explain or provide information about agreements that have been reached by the parties.” She then went on to say she wanted the Guild “to confirm that the purpose of Monday’s meeting is to explain the contractual process followed by the Company during a reduction in force because of a subcontract.” And, apparently because she thought she could do a better job of explaining it than either Townsend or Fannon, she said that she would be attending the meeting.
‘You’re not invited’
Townsend responded to Katsanos in an email, telling her that her description for which the Guild used S&P meeting rooms was “simply inaccurate” and she wasn’t invited. He asked her to confirm that the Bayview Room would be available to the Guild on August 6.
At a meeting on Thursday, August 2, Katsanos confirmed that the Bayview Room would not be available to the Guild on August 6. She said she wasn’t necessarily denying the request, but since she was filling in as director of workplace initiatives and new to the role, she had to check to determine if she could allow such a meeting and she couldn’t possibly find time to do it between then and Monday. The Guild notified her that it would be filing an unfair labor practice charge due to the break in past practice.
The meeting in which Katsanos delivered the refusal was called for by the Guild to negotiate the terms and conditions of the additional duties being required of those employees whose jobs are to be outsourced. Specifically we wanted to talk about the employees who are being required to train those individuals who will be taking their jobs. Katsanos didn’t agree to negotiate, but said she’d listen to what the Guild had to say and then determine if the company wanted to negotiate. In fact, she wouldn’t agree that it was even “training” that we were talking about. She said it was nothing more than a “knowledge transfer.”
The Guild told Katsanos that it was our understanding that every keystroke on the computers was being recorded during the training process. Likewise, conversations between Guild-represented employees and the trainees were being recorded. We wanted an agreement that no discipline would result from information management derived from those recordings.
It was also our understanding that headphones would be utilized during the training process. We wanted a new set of phones to be assigned to each Guild-represented employee for his or her use only.
As compensation for the additional duty of training, we wanted each Guild-represented employee who participated in it to be awarded a $5,000 bonus.
We also told Katsanos that it was our understanding that some Guild-represented employees had been approached by management about travelling to India to train employees who would be performing their tasks. Townsend told Katsanos that the terms of their travel, the length of their stays and their compensation had been discussed and that was dealing directly with Guild-represented employees and that was illegal.
That will be another charge the Guild will present to the NLRB.
Regarding the employees S&P wishes to go to India, the Guild said it wanted it done purely on a voluntary basis with absolutely no retaliation to anyone who refuses. We wanted a specific time attached to the length – two weeks – of the assignment and a $10,000 bonus for going. If S&P found a need to extend the assignment, it may request a two-week extension but, again, it would be purely on a voluntarily basis by the employee. After that, still another two-week extension could be sought and, again, the employee could refuse. Each two weeks or portion thereof, would result in a $10,000 bonus.
We wanted S&P to provide employees going to India with first-class airline travel and first-class hotel accommodations.
The board charge will also complain that that S&P entered into an agreement with Genpact, the outsource company, before it gave the Guild 90-days notice that the subcontracting is going to take place.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement reads: “If the Publisher wishes to subcontract bargaining unit work, it first must provide ninety (90) days written notice to the Guild of its intention. . . During the first thirty (30) days of this notice period, the Guild has the opportunity to begin discussions and propose alternatives to subcontracting.”
Management has continually told us it will follow the contract throughout the outsourcing process. There is little doubt then, that S&P will give the Guild 90 days’ notice before employees of the Client Services Department are due to leave 55 Water Street. But how can the Guild effectively suggest alternatives to outsourcing if S&P has already signed an agreement with Genpact?
Guild attorneys have begun work on the NLRB charge and we expect that it will be filed on Monday.