Time Inc. Staffers to Vote on New Contract

Time Inc. staffers are set to vote on a new contract that would expand protection for editorial employees there, where a smaller workforce is increasingly being asked to do work for multiple brands and platforms.
The Newspaper Guild of New York said under the tentative agreement, its members would still be covered by the bargaining agreement when they do regular work for other, non-Guild covered entities. The contract also would apply to non-Guild members who regularly work in Guild-covered areas.
“The Guild wants to have work for its members, even if some of that work may be in non-Guild covered areas,” said unit chair John Shostrom, an employee at Sports Illustrated.
The provision is meant to limit the time employees work when they’re assigned duties in other areas. It expands on an earlier agreement that called for Guild employees’ workload to be adjusted when they performed work for their magazine’s Web site. An arbitrator earlier this year ordered Time Inc. to abide by that agreement after the Guild accused People magazine of violating it.
Under the proposed contract, Guild members can’t actually be required to work for a non-Guild entity, although it’s hard to imagine staffers refusing such assignments, given the precarious state of the industry.
A vote is set for Aug. 5 on the proposed three-year contract, which would cover some 300 editorial staffers at the publishing company.
The agreement also would eliminate a guaranteed “dark week,” a tradition of paid time off for staffers, particularly those at Time and Sports Illustrated, around the holidays. That provision would take effect in 2011.
But Guild members would receive annual raises and cash bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 based on years of service.
The bonus offer, for Guild members only, followed the company’s move several months ago to freeze pension contributions, according to Shostrom.