Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild executive committee minutes: Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018

President Sandy Tan called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 at The News’ second-floor conference room, One News Plaza.

President Sandy Tan decreed that meeting agendas would not be printed for the meeting.

The committee reviewed the minutes from July; it was pointed out that Przepasniak and Connelly were misspelled. Guild Secretary Keith McShea muttered several profanities to himself.

Motion/Second/Carried Besecker/Fairbanks to approve the July 2018 executive committee meeting minutes.

Tan offered a “special thank you” to Vice President for Contract Enforcement Aaron Besecker for attending the meeting while on vacation.

Interim Vice President for Mobilization and Communication Colin Dabkowski issued his report.

The Frontier Reporter is finished, and the Guild will print 300 copies. They are six pages, black & white and include 17 profiles of the members who left due to buyouts, plus other items.

Every person’s profile will be shared on social media, Dabkowski said.

It seems that the “ship has sailed” for a summer party, but Dabkowski noted that there have already been some summer gatherings.

To the surprise of the committee, it was noted that The News was not joining in the national, Boston Globe-led group effort to do pro-First Amendment editorials.

The Guild, however, is writing its own editorial in support of the effort. Dabkowski will be writing it. It will be tweeted on the Guild account and members will be encouraged to retweet it.

Besecker delivered his committee report.

The grievance committee did not meet.

Tan talked to Margaret Kenny about issues raised at our last meeting.

* Sponsored Content – The News, after some prodding, is agreeing to use the word “sponsored” in the headline of sponsored posts.

* On the issue of staff credit lines being given to freelancers — Now there will be a field in WordPress where the credit line can be changed, which will be carried over to print.

* On a separate issue, the Guild gave management a memo outlining where we believe we still have jurisdiction in the features dept. “It sounds like management has an issue with much of it … talks will continue,” Besecker said.

Another issue raised was that non-Guild member was putting together Q&A posts in which the News answers questions via social media; but those posts have been running in print.

New business

Administrative Officer Kim Leiser walked through the budget for 2019.

Several cuts were made in an effort to reduced expenses because of a shortfall that can be attributed to the Guild losing dues due to the buyouts.

The proposed budget included 20 percent cuts to the top four stipend positions: President, two Vice Presidents and Treasurer.

“Even after that, we are out of balance by over $10,000,” Leiser said.

Said Finance Committee member David Robinson:

“It was about $20,000 out of whack. We made fiscally wise moves. We wanted to make a good faith effort to hold spending in check. It was not made to balance the budget, due to the defense fund’s presence.”

He noted that if the stipends were restored, it would make the budget deficit $13,000. Robinson said that the difference in budgets with or without the stipends was “negligible” considering the potential use of the defense fund.”

Leiser said “we have only have taken money out of the defense fund if we absolutely had to.”

It was noted by the committee that use of defense fund can be included in budgets, not unlike school boards or the like factor in surpluses into their budget.

Defense fund details:

Five years ago it was $613K.

In the last five years, the Guild has withdrawn $59,000.

It had an ending value June 30 of $725K; as of July 31 it was $747K.

Leiser noted that of the withdrawls in the last five years, $29K of that should have been taken from the defense fund by the previous treasurer.

The defense fund started at $256K since inception with this broker, Richard Schroeder, which was about 20 years ago.

It has a rate of return of 5.3 percent.

The committee discussed stipends.

“The reality is we have a pile of money, and a pile of expenses — whether we say things are a legitimate use of the defense fund, it comes down to how much of a scoop do we want to take?”

Our general approach was to prudently cut the budget, Robinson said.

“Here’s the budget,” he said. “We’re addressing a shortfall. If you want to restore it, it’s up to you.”

A discussion of the legal fees line, which was reduced, included that the Guild would go into the defense fund if local legal help was needed.

President’s expenses were touched on during a lengthy discussion of the budget and the potential use, or the extent of the use, of the defense fund.

Some members of the committee were in favor of stipend cuts as a symbolic sign to members that the executives were taking a share of the cost-cutting. Others supported the executive officers’ stipends remaining as is due to the extensive workload they are responsible for, and that that workload is more important than ever; it is noted that no affected executive officers were arguing on behalf of their own stipends; this came from other committee members.

M/S/C Sommer/Robinson to approve the budget with the restoration of stipends and president’s expenses; and the addition of a new income line from the defense fund of $13,500 in order to balance the budget. Motion passes: Six in favor; one opposed; two abstentions (Sandy Tan and Aaron Besecker).

M/S/C Besecker/Fairbanks to approve sending one attendee to the Newspaper Guild Multi-District Council in San Francisco in November.

The Labor Day parade was discussed, with Tan emphasizing that this year, considering the climate towards the press and the recent changes at The News, the Guild should try to have a strong presence.

Tan mentioned other ideas; building a float did not seem feasible, some committee members said.

M/S/C McShea/Sommer to contribute at total of $100 to the parade, an increase from $50 last year and zero two years ago; parade organizers suggest $10 per person.

Free seminar in Rochester by US Dept of Labor office of Labor mgmt. – recordkeeping and recording requirement.

M/S/C McShea/Hammill to approve to send Kim Leiser to Rochester for a free seminar by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management.

Tan noted the retail cost of the paper would be rising soon.

Tan noted the departure of Joe Giglia, Vice President for Human Resources, who was deserving of thanks for his working together with the Guild on several issues.

Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:27 p.m.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Vice President/Grievances Aaron Besecker, interim Vice President/Mobilization Colin Dabkowski, Secretary Keith McShea, Administrative Officer Kim Leiser, inside circulation delegate Diana Gawron, editorial delegates David Robinson and Mark Sommer; editorial alternate delegate Scott Scanlon, Sun papers steward Luke Hammill, past president Phil Fairbanks.

Excused: Treasurer and ABC chief steward Felice McMillion, nightside chief steward Mike Pesarchick; editorial delegate Mike Harrington, district manager steward Joan Portman.

Absent: District manager alternate delegate Bob Snyder, inside circulation delegate Latrice Carr, district manager co-stewards Matt Fuery and Mike Tatko, editorial alternate delegate Jeff Miers.