Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild executive committee minutes: Wednesday, June 13, 2018

President Sandy Tan called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at The News’ second-floor conference room, One News Plaza.

Tan introduces Joan Portman, who is joining the Guild executive committee as the district managers steward.

Tan also introduced Luke Hammill, who is considering joining the Guild executive committee as a representative of members from the Sun papers.

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

VP for Contract Administration Aaron Besecker issued his committee report.

There was a possible jurisdictional violation related to the departed Niagara Weekend section.

Besecker said that The News continues to use Mike Kurilovich to cover cops on weekends in Niagara County. “We are considering continuing the fight over it; not sure how strong our case is,” said Besecker.

Besecker also noted that Teresa Sharp briefs were showing up in the Monday paper because there is no Niagara Weekend anymore.

Tan notified the committee that Dan Kirchberger will be leaving his post as Vice President for Mobilization, as well as the Guild, as he is taking a job with Brian Connolly on the fourth floor.

“We will be looking for a new VP of mobilization,” Tan said.

Kirchberger issued his final committee report.

He said that the move to squarespace is almost complete; he has to migrate new stuff to the new site.

A coffee survey was conducted due to the death of the Keurig coffee maker.

In the latest abrupt reassignment from the sports department to newsside, a Keurig is being reassigned from sports to news.

New business

MSC Fairbanks/Kirchberger to nominate Joan Portman as DM steward and executive committee member.

“I look forward to doing whatever I’m supposed to do,” Portman declared.

Tan provided an update on buyouts.

Melinda Miller will be leaving this week. Her farewell is 3 p.m. Friday.

The targeted buyouts of the print team employees result in departures the week ending July 1.

There is a chance that 16 might not be the final buyout number because those who have not signed can still decide not to sign.

The Guild lost a total of 18 employees, which includes all buyouts plus Kirchberger and Tim Graham. “We are very sad to see these people go,” said Tan.

On the “upside,” she said, News management says it is committed to hiring at least eight members.

Tan said that the loss of members makes for a “troubling” look at a loss of dues.

Kim Leiser and the finance committee reviewed the budget & projections.

The Guild is looking at a $20,000 loss of dues.

Leiser said that if The News hires eight people, based on contract minimums, the Guild would regain about $8,600, still leaving a shortfall of about $12,000.

The finance committee is looking into various ways to make up the shortfall.

Mark Sommer and Diana Gawron joined the finance committee’s most recent meetign to discuss places to cut costs.

Tan raised the issue of possibly reducing the cost of stipends.

“We are lucky to have a full-time administrator,” Tan said. “It is rare for guilds which have a full-time administrator to have officers that have stipends at the level they are.”

A question was raised about tapping into the defense fund.

“The defense fund is there for a reason,” said Phil Fairbanks.

“My first inclination is to cut where we can,’ said David Robinson, “then use the defense fund to fill in the gaps.”

Some locals use it to balance budget, day to day. Some locals have 6-70K; others have a lot more in it.

Leiser said various guilds use their defense funds in various ways.

Aaron Besecker inquired about how the reduction in guild members affected the makeup of the executive committee.

There is to be one steward for every 20 people; after a discussion Tan said it did not appear that the makeup of the committee (due in part to current absences on the committee) would not be affected.

Tan discussed financial numbers provided by The News.

Tan summarized how the Guild used Level Financial to assist members during the buyout, including a group session for all members. A total of $5,000 had been allocated for this expense; the bill was $3,600.

M/S/C Dabkowski/Fairbanks to spend $3,600 out of the defense fund on the Level Financial expenses related to the 2018 buyouts.

Tan raised the issue of having to print new contract books. We have 180 members but would need additional copies over the course of the three-year contract.

Having the contracts printed by The News was not considered due to The News’ dramatically higher costs.

M/S/C Robinson/Fairbanks to order 350 new contract books at an expense of $988.27.

Tan said that in the light of reduced membership numbers, an organizing committee committee would be established.

“We need to grow as a guild in order to stay viable,” she said. “For a long time, we’ve been healthy enough that we haven’t had to think about expanding.

“We’re getting smaller. We are not going to be able to sustain what we have now if we don’t grow and expand.”

Tan asked Phil Fairbanks to char a new organizing committee, and said that the Guild is looking for members to serve with Phil on the committee to think about ways that we can grow.

The stipend discussion continued.

Dan Kirchberger said that “our stipends are way out of line with other locals that have staff members. Even the ones that don’t have a full-time staff member, they have much lower stipends.”

Kim Leiser did some research on stipends: Of the locals that have paid staff, they either pay no stipends, or they pay very minimal stipends.

The Guild pays out $14,000 in stipends, which accounts for about 10 percent of the budget.

Phil Fairbanks said: “They don’t come close to acknowledging what the top three positions do.”

Colin Dabkowski pointed to the defense fund possibly being used, and made the point that there shouldn’t be the need to tap into it since there should not be negotiations for the next three years.

Tan said that she will accept the recommendation of the committee, no matter what that decision is.

Tan offered a goodbye and thanks to the departing Dan Kirchberger, Sue Kelley and Trey Bankhead.

“Thanks for everything you’ve contributed,” Tan said. “There is no replacing you and the work that you’ve done.”

Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:04 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, Trey Bankhead, Phil Fairbanks and Mark Sommer; district manager steward Joan Portman; Frontier Reporter editor Ellen Przepasniak; editorial alternate delegate Scott Scanlon.

Excused: District manager alternate delegate Bob Snyder.

Absent: Inside circulation delegate Latrice Carr, district manager co-stewards Matt Fuery and Mike Tatko, nightside chief steward Mike Pesarchick; editorial alternate delegate Jeff Miers.