Time Inc. Guild journalists' changing world of web and print
For a long time now we’ve been telling management that the company’s move to the digital age has been too slow. And recently, as the magazines have finally started moving in that direction, we’ve reiterated that almost weekly. Far from being opposed, the Guild wants Time Inc. to bring print and the websites together. It’s logical and necessary for the long-term health of the company. So each week we’ve told management: “Talk to us now; let’s work together so that when the time comes, the issues—workload, new job responsibilities, jurisdiction and the like—will already have been worked out.”
Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened that way. Despite the company’s obligation to negotiate with the Guild about our terms and conditions of employment, management has done little more than notify us of changes hours before they are announced, and in some cases management has made changes without telling us at all, leaving us to find out from employees after the fact. A case in point is the People weekend schedule, which is designed to provide website coverage, although management claims it’s for print as well.
WHAT THE CONTRACT SAYS
While the Guild is discussing these issues with the company, we’d like to remind you of your rights concerning the websites and other out-of-jurisdiction work. These rights have been confirmed by Editor-in-Chief John Huey and are spelled out in Side Letter No. 5 of the current contract, which includes the following provisions:
“1) No Guild-covered Employee shall be required to write for, or perform work of any kind for operations of the Publisher that the Publisher does not recognize as covered by Guildjurisdiction.
“2) When providing services for additional operations, a Guild-covered Employee’swork-load shall be adjusted to permit such additional services within the Employee’s existing work time.
“3) No Employee will be negatively impacted with respect to their job evaluation in any way for failing or refusing to work for additional operations.”
And for website employees and others not currently covered by the contract:
“Any employee hired and or employed by additional operations of the Publisher routinely or regularly performing any work or services for any entity covered by the collective bargaining agreement with the Guild, shall be considered a Guild-covered Employee and shall be subject to all of the terms and conditions of said agreement."
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
For employees of the websites, it means that if you regularly work for a Guild-represented print magazine (writing a column, regularly contributing to a recurrent page or fact-checking articles that end up in print, for example), you should be covered by the contract between the Guild and Time Inc. Please contact one of the reps below if you think this applies to you. We have brought several people into Guild coverage based on this provision. Keep in mind also that Guild-covered employees who move to one of the websites retain their protections under the contract.
For Guild-covered print employees, it means you have a choice: If, for example, you are assigned to People’s weekend schedule and are asked to write for the website, you can say no. If you don’t have time (or don’t wish) to get the dozens of dotcom-related emails that now go to SI staffers, the emails can remain unread. If you are asked to copyedit for a website or a publication other than the magazine you work for, you can say, “I just can’t right now.” The Side Letter provides that all these choices can be made without negative consequence to your job evaluation.
Of course, many Guild-covered journalists welcome the added exposure of the websites and are happy to do the work. Others may not feel comfortable saying no, even if they’d like to, either because they feel they should help or because they suspect their managers will use their decision against them, despite the protections of the contract. So, we hope it helps you to know that the agreement with the company also means you can say yes some of the time and no other times: If you’re happy to have your work appear everywhere it can, but are too busy reporting and putting the final touches on that investigative print piece due at the end of the week, or if you ordinarily don’t mind running out to cover an event for the website on Saturdays, but this particular Saturday happens to be your daughter’s birthday, or if you love photo-editing that other magazine when there’s time, but this week’s regular close of your own magazine is just way too busy—then decline the assignment this time. Agreeing to do extra-jurisdictional work once or even regularly does not mean you’ve volunteered for all assignments.
And for the times you do volunteer, remember that the additional work has to be accommodated in your regular work hours. This is a crucial provision, especially for overtime-exempt employees. For those employees (writers, writer-reporters, photo editors, designers, etc.), a manager must either adjust your other assignments to make sure you are not working more hours because of your website work, or make other accommodations under the regular provision of the contract, such as offering comp time or making sure that you are receiving the contractually mandated extra (fifth or sixth) week of vacation for excessive overtime. Overtime-eligible employees, of course, get paid for any hours they work over 35. (And please, please put in for your overtime. Time Inc. is a corporation, not a charity, and budgets that don’t account for overtime hours are false budgets.)
Does all this seem overly complicated? Sure does. As we’ve said, the Guild has been pushing for a long time to get management to honor its obligations and work with us as it finally moves to end the antiquated and artificial distinction between the websites and the magazines. Unfortunately, management continues to insist on one major artificial distinction: that of Guild coverage. Most of the people who work for the websites are still not covered by our contract. So, there’s no extra week of vacation for them, no one except the Department of Labor to ask if they should be getting paid overtime, no minimum salaries, no protection in a layoff. . . . If these artificial barriers didn’t exist, we could move toward an agreement that rationally balances workload and other questions, and front-line managers would be able to assign work without having to first figure out which of their print employees are represented by the Guild.
We’re still working on it. In the meantime, please contact one of the following Guild reps if you have any questions or concerns on this or any other issue.
Jill Jaroff, Unit Chair (x5650), Email
Bernice Rohret, Membership Chair (x4561)
Alan Levine, Second Vice Chair (x3432)
Oliver Jones, Third Vice Chair (L.A.) (x7222)
Marisa Laudadio, Third Vice Chair (L.A.) (x7299)
Pearl Chen, Third Vice Chair (x1092)
John Shostrom, Third Vice Chair (x3965)
Alfie Graham, Fortune Rep (x3321)
Judy Ferbel, Money Rep (x0486)
Doug Watson, Time Rep (x8959)
Edith Fried, Grievance Chair, Email