Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild executive committee minutes: Tuesday, April 16, 2019

President Sandy Tan called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at The News’ second-floor conference room, One News Plaza.

Motion/Second/Carried Fairbanks/Robinson to approve the executive committee meeting minutes for March.

Vice President for Contract Enforcement Aaron Besecker reported on contract issues.

There was a grievance committee prior to the executive meeting where a sports freelance photo situation was addressed. Management told Besecker that The Guild would receive a note from them that they admitted wrongdoing regarding this situation.

Steve Elwell from Level Financial spoke to the executive committee regarding its shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock and the current makeup of The Guild’s portfolio, along with different options The Guild may be interested in pursuing. He delivered a comprehensive explanatory presentation and participated in a question-and-answer session.

Elwell recommended that The Guild convert from A shares to B shares to comply with the legal investment contract we have with Level Financial to maintain a 50-50 split between stocks and bonds; to diversify our holdings; and to give the Guild more flexibility to make other investments with a higher rate of return. There’s no tax implications to convert to B shares but the opposite is not true. Right now, stocks comprise 58 percent of the Guild’s Defense Fund investments.

Some Guild members asked about the impact to our voting rights if we gave up our A share for B shares, but a majority of Executive Committee members said they believe the best protection of Defense Fund assets is to not tie up so much fund money in a single share. There was also discussion about maintaining at least some Berkshire Hathaway shares for as long as BH owns The Buffalo News.

The Berkshire Hathaway stock recommendation will be put before the local in the next meeting on May 8, at noon and 4:30 p.m.

Following the stock discussion, a recap of the grievance committee meeting continued.

Tan requested that a sports issue that McShea and Harrington were speaking about be tabled until the next executive meeting after they had a chance to discuss it.

Sandy Tan issued her President’s report.

Tan said The Guild contributed to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s gofundme following the layoff of many staffers. She encouraged members to contribute and share their message on social media.

Tan told the committee of The Guild buying lunch for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newsroom via Colin Dabkowski’s stipend; Pittsburgh was “very grateful for the support.”

Sandy will write up what The Guild did for Pittsburgh and Cleveland for The Frontier Reporter.

Leiser provided an update on the national election and the background behind Bernie Lunzer being challenged by a newcomer from the Los Angeles Times.

MSC Fairbanks/Harrington to approve sending Leiser to the CWA national convention in Las Vegas from July 28-31.

Tan spoke that she hoped that a group of Guild members could hopefully meet soon on a “BN Better” committee meeting with the intent of better promoting The News.

The committee voted against management’s request to carve out special, one-time changes to the temporary Guild member language to make special accommodations for a former graphic artist.

Tan said the May meetings would be moved up in the calendar to Tuesday, May 7 for the executive committee and Wednesday, May 8 for the general guild local meeting.

Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Vice President/Grievances Aaron Besecker, Secretary Keith McShea, Administrative Officer Kim Leiser, District manager steward Joan Portman, Sun papers steward Luke Hammill, editorial delegate Mike Harrington, editorial delegate David Robinson, nightside chief steward Mike Pesarchick; past president Phil Fairbanks.

Excused: Treasurer and ABC chief steward Felice McMillion, Interim Vice President/Mobilization Colin Dabkowski, Inside circulation delegate Diana Gawron, Editorial delegate Mark Sommer.

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