Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild gains editorial jurisdiction at The Hamburg Sun

8.7.17 – The Guild reached an agreement last month with management at The News for editorial jurisdiction at The Hamburg Sun. At a time when the Guild is seeing a loss in members, particularly with the sad departure of our colleagues in Classified, this agreement represents a rare bright spot.

“Though this may only lead initially to the hire of a couple of part-time reporters at The Sun, this deal reflects a meeting of the minds between The News and the Guild to safeguard the journalistic integrity of any newspaper launched or relaunched by The News,” said President Sandy Tan.

The Sun is a relatively new startup with some circumstances unique to a weekly newspaper, so the Guild formed a subcommittee that spent weeks working to shape an agreement that would give managers the flexibility they said they need to stay financial viable while still carving out exclusive jurisdiction terms.

Among the highlights of the news agreement:

The Buffalo News agrees to hire full- or part-time Guild reporters to work at The Sun.

Sun reporters will be hired at the Editorial Group D beginner rate and progress to the one-year rate after two years. This rate is believed to be similar to or better than the rate reporters were paid at The Hamburg Sun prior to its folding.

When Guild staffers fill in for The Sun editor, they will receive a differential equal to Editorial Group C pay.

With the exception of the editor, Guild members at The Sun will have exclusive jurisdiction of all major municipality and school district coverage, based on the same town population and school district enrollment jurisdiction thresholds that exist for reporters at The News.

Managing Editor Brian Connolly stated The Sun editor needed the flexibility to write stories and to hire stringers, similar to the practices at other weekly papers. In consideration of this, the Guild agreed The Sun editor may write up to three articles per edition that fall within Guild jurisdiction.

The Guild also agreed to allow stringers to write articles that fall outside municipal and school district jurisdiction, but Guild members must be given preference over stringers for coverage of stories with anticipated high news value. In addition, the Guild requires that all stringers, reporters and editors for The Sun adhere to the same Code of Ethics and journalism standards that are followed at The News.

Guild members at The Sun are eligible for employment at The News. However, The News would not be required to hire them. Anyone from The Sun who is hired at The News would be credited with their length of service at The Sun for vacation and pay purposes.

Finally, the agreement allows Sun reporters to shoot pictures that may run in print in The Hamburg Sun only. The Guild noticed that writer-produced photos in The Sun tend to be weak, so after consultation with News photographers, the Guild agreed to allow The Sun to access Buffalo News file photos. All photos that run in The Sun must be properly credited to The Buffalo News standard.

Outside of the exceptions noted above, Guild members at The Hamburg Sun are entitled to the same contract protections and benefits as all other Guild members. This would include bonuses and raises. Layoffs at The Sun would also adhere to similar standards as layoffs at The News. The Guild rejected attempts by The News to further weaken job security language under this agreement.

In two years‘ time, both sides will have a one-month window where they may evaluate and alter The Sun jurisdiction agreement by mutual consent.

Tan thanked Kim Leiser, Aaron Besecker, Trey Bankhead and the entire Executive Committee for their input and leadership in the crafting of this agreement.

“I’m happy and relieved a jurisdiction agreement could be reached in a cooperative manner with management,” Tan said. “Though it was a complex and time-consuming effort for both sides, it moved forward without antagonism or drama. We believe we have given The Sun every chance for success and truly hope it does well.