Arbitrator Rules That People Staff Aren’t Required To Work On Their Site

An arbitrator has ordered Time Inc. to tell People staff that working on their magazine’s web site is not mandatory, The Newspaper Guild reports.

This comes after editors at Time Inc.-owned Fortune and Time told their staffs that they would be required to work for the dot-com operations, and that part of their compensation would be based on that work.

The argument started in September 2008 when a People staff member e-mailed management asking whether dot-com work was mandatory. Management said yes, then wrote back again:
“They’re not mandatory, per se, but they’re not optional either.”

The guild representing Time Inc. staffers filed a complaint, which we covered in November 2009, citing not just increased responsibilities but increased workload as a reason why having staffers double-dip is a problem.

As of today, the dot-com work at People et al is voluntary.

Our thoughts on the matter are the same as they were in November: Overworking staff isn’t cool, but that’s unrelated to whether somebody works on both the Web site and the print product; you can only do print and still be overworked. So let’s focus on that issue, not the laughable conceit that working on a web site is somehow anathema for print folks.