The Albany Newspaper Guild on Wednesday approved a buyout proposal for Times Union workers.
Those who take the buyout would get severance pay as outlined in the contract, which is generally two weeks per year of service. They would also get the same number of weeks of health insurance. The minimum health coverage would be through the end of the year.
Guild leaders had strongly recommended approval of the buyout offer and members approved the proposal by a vote of 121 to 0.
The newspaper’s publisher, George Hearst III, announced last month that it would terminate its contract with the union as of April 9 to force progress with the bargaining unit. The Hearst Corp., its parent company, had sought to cut its costs by nearly 20 percent, partly through layoffs. The newspaper industry in general is struggling with a decline in advertising revenue and the migration of readers to the Internet.
The union had already agreed to a 5 percent pay cut, elimination of a sick day bonus and overtime payments before employees work 40 hours a week.
“The company would have been satisfied with just laying people off,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said in a statement on the union’s Web site. “We fought hard to get a buyout offer that would enable people to leave voluntarily. The more people take the buyout, the fewer will be laid off. This shows that when both sides work together, we can come up with an agreement that is in everyone’s best interest.”
People have until April 15 to apply for the buyout. A total of 16 people had previously told the Guild they would consider a buyout.
As of late February, the Times Union had 453 employees.