Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild executive committee minutes: Thursday, May 10, 2018

Note: This meeting was rescheduled from its original date of Wednesday, May 16, 2018 due to The News’ offering of buyouts.

President Sandy Tan called the meeting to order at 4:04 p.m Thursday, May 10, 2018 at The News’ second-floor conference room, One News Plaza.

Motion/Second/Carried Besecker/Davis to approve the minutes from the January executive committee meeting.
Motion/Second/Carried Besecker/Gawron to approve the minutes from the March executive committee meeting.

VP for Mobilization Dan Kirchberger issued his committee report.

Flyers were sent out today regarding: one on the job elimination buyouts, one on the voluntary buyout for the newsroom, one on meetings with reporters/columnists.

VP for Contract Administration Aaron Besecker issued his committee report.
Niagara Weekend’s final publication will be Sunday, making two of three current grievances moot: One on the volume of freelance pieces, one on submitted photos.
Another grievance concerned encroachments on the stringer agreement; that grievance might still exist based on what The News does with freelancers.President Sandy Tan addressed the committee.”A lot has happened since we last met, a lot has happened since Friday.”

“On Friday, we got word they were going to be offering buyouts in the newsroom, and we spent some time discussing the specifics of those, which we will get into shortly.”

Tan said that also on Friday, The News first shared their first-quarter numbers with the Guild: The News lost money in the first quarter in the first quarter’s operating budget, the first such significant loss in decades, and that even with the pension benefit, the News’ first quarter still landed in the red.

“On Monday, Mike Connelly sent out an email to all editorial members,” Tan said.

“Beginning Tuesday, editors started calling in nine people in the newsroom: copy editors, part-time reporters, graphic artists, clerk – who would be given targeted buyouts.”

Tan said that payments were in line with what severance payments would be; people could can take that total and divvy it up to purchase health insurance. Tan said that Connelly addressed each employee; the Guild talked with members about the initial verbal offers they received.

“On Wednesday, they met with the last person, and we went back to the company to get better buyout offers from all of these employees. We bumped up everybody to 48 weeks, the maximum severance. Or, if you were at or near the threshold, it meant four additional weeks, for a maximum of 52 weeks of pay.”

Tan said that all target buyout offers would equal more pay than the corresponding severance total in contract.

Tan said for the open volunatry buyouts that are being offered to reporters and columnists, those are strictly limited to value of your severance. The company says there is no negotiating room.

Tan said, that for the targeted buyouts, those employees were called in and were told that their jobs were being abolished; in the case of two part-timers, they were told that their hours would go from 30 per week to six, which is the minimum based on past practice.

Tan said the Guild has contracted with Level Financial for personal one-on-one advice.
Tan said a Q&A flyer would be coming out soon.

“All of us have been very, very, very, very busy to find out what’s going on,” Tan said. “I’d especially like to thank Kim, Dan and Aaron. You have seen us wandering around the newsroom, or holed up in the green meeting room.”

Tan said many have asked about what happens to the if those employees don’t take the targeted buyouts? Tan said The News does not know.

A discussion followed on the buyout situation.

Sandy Tan adjourned the meeting at 5:04 p.m.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Vice President/Grievances Aaron Besecker, Vice President/Mobilization Dan Kirchberger, Treasurer and ABC chief steward Felice McMillion, Secretary Keith McShea, Administrative Officer Kim Leiser, inside circulation delegate Diana Gawron, editorial delegate/clerks chief steward Susan Kelley, editorial delegates Mike Harrington, David Robinson and Mark Sommer; nightside chief steward Mike Pesarchick; past president Henry Davis.

Excused: None.
Absent: Frontier Reporter editor Ellen Przepasniak; editorial delegates Trey Bankhead and Phil Fairbanks; inside circulation delegate Latrice Carr, district manager co-stewards Matt Fuery and Mike Tatko, editorial alternate delegate Jeff Miers, district manager alternate delegate Bob Snyder, editorial alternate delegate Scott Scanlon.