Coronavirus Update 3: Fighting for PTO/Flexible Schedules


Dear Members, 

In tracking the spread of the coronavirus and the growing number of COVID-19 cases, the timetable for when our schedules might revert to “normal” is increasingly unclear. This — coupled with the closing of schools and supportive services — presents a significant issue for parents, for members caring for a loved one, and for those who may become ill themselves. 

Your Guild leadership and staff are actively working with management at all of our units  to ensure that you have adequate resources and support to take care of your children and other family members. We’ve been discussing various solutions including additional banks of paid time specifically for childcare, unlimited paid time off for coronavirus-related care, and instituting flexible and/or staggered work schedules.

We believe in this deeply. All employers, whether or not their workforce is unionized, have a responsibility during this health crisis to ensure that their employees are able to care for their children or loved ones without fear of repercussions or dismissal. The ability to do so directly impacts the success of self-quarantining and social distancing, which in turn has a profound influence on the trajectory of this pandemic.

Unfortunately, some of you — our photographers, videographers, field and political reporters, and producers, for example — are unable to work remotely. We are talking with employers about how to ensure your safe travel and making every effort to enable you to care for your families during this time. We are also asking employers to allow you, if applicable, to take home the appropriate equipment to do your work. 

This is a great time to talk to your Unit Leaders about how the company can be better prepared as well as to help create and implement readiness plans that work for all of us. In the meantime, we will continue to share information and keep the updates coming. 

Earlier today, we launched a page on our website with access to  all of our coronavirus updates. In addition, we have links to much of your great coverage of the pandemic as well as several resources to assist you during this time — including a particularly insightful article from our members at Ars Technica, who’ve been working remotely for over 22 years. 

Last, I would encourage us all to use some of this time to build solidarity. While it’s important to be conscious of social (physical) distancing, we can and should check in on each other digitally. I’ve heard some great ways many of you are staying connected, from lunchtime video calls to shared playlists, all helping to build an online community. We’ll be posting these ideas and more on our coronavirus resources and updates webpage.

Our members at Roosevelt Institute created #virtual-parent-support — a new Slack channel where some employees without children have volunteered to help entertain young ones with things like virtual story time sessions, FaceTime chats, pet playdates, and games — for company staffers to help out colleagues who are at home with kids. It’s also a channel that members are using to proactively share resources and communicate. Here’s how Jade Wilenchik, our Unit Chair, described their efforts:

“A lot of folks at Roosevelt are parents to small children, some of them voiced that they are having a really hard time balancing their work with childcare responsibilities now that schools have closed. There’s a ton of ‘how to work from home’ literature that’s being put out right now, and a lot of it does not account for parents who have children at home.

“As an employer, Roosevelt seems to be thinking about new solutions for parents on staff, but we’re also trying to help out where we can and create community in our digital spaces. We’re using that space to proactively share resources, especially from coworkers with family/friends who work with children. For example, one of our coworkers’ parents is a violinist and offered to perform a kids’ concert. We’re hopeful this will help our colleagues and their kids.”

We plan on throwing a few Guild-wide digital gatherings in the next few weeks, providing us a chance to talk to one another, release some quarantine cabin fever, and get a sense of how we’re all doing. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them

Lastly, we’ve extended the deadline to our Diversity and Inclusion Census through the beginning of April. If you’re able, please take a few minutes to fill out this brief and anonymous survey if you haven’t done so already. Getting a complete picture of our membership from shop to shop is important to planning how best to advocate for you, especially as we continue collective bargaining on contracts. If you have any questions about the census or the committee, please reach out to

We will keep the updates coming. But please make sure to reach out to your Unit Leaders, Local Representative, or me with any issues or concerns.  

In Solidarity, 

Susan DeCarava
President | The NewsGuild of New York

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