Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

Guild executive committee minutes: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

President Sandy Tan called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2020 via Zoom.

Motion/Second/Carried Besecker/Fairbanks to approve the minutes for the May executive and general Guild meetings.

M/S/C Fairbanks/Mooney to approve the minutes of the typographical unit negotiations.

Grievance Report

Vice President/Contract Enforcement Aaron Besecker wanted to get the committee’s opinion on the executive sports editor writing posts that go online and sometimes get rewritten for print.

The committee discussed including its objection to these kinds of actions by the executive sports editor in a letter to management.

An issue involving a Niagara County stringer has said stringer writing during the week, when he has been a weekend contributor for years. Various items have been written on weekdays. The committee also agreed that this would be included in a letter to management.

Besecker reviewed the freelance mobilization effort the Guild undertook earlier in the summer, noting that a hockey freelancer had not had his work published since our mobilization, and that the digital columnist’s work seemed to “take a step back.” However, Besecker and members were concerned about a recent column regarding the Buffalo Braves that appeared to be in the core coverage area.

Besecker said that if management continues to publish freelance posts that the Guild should call it out.

Besecker and Secretary Keith McShea are to work on some tweet language in response to the Buffalo Braves column.

Mobilization Report

President Sandy Tan thanked the Guild for the blackout campaign work but noted that the #ThisIsGuildWork efforts were not as robust and that tweets were mostly among executive committee members. Tan did also note that the hockey freelancer had not been published and said that it was a “successful” social media campaign.

Tan said the next Frontier Reporter is due out in August and is to include a farewell to Phil Fairbanks, the new typographical unit contract, a summary of the freelance issue, and the News’ new publisher, among other items.

President’s report 

President Sandy Tan discussed the departure of Vince Chiaramonte from management, along with related moves of the temporary elevation of Terry Lew to design editor and the bringing back of LiKu Gao as a temporary Guild member.

Tan also said the Guild’s sent flowers in support of a member whose father died.

Administrative Officer Kim Leiser and Tan yesterday were involved in the first negotiations with the Tonawanda News, the publisher of the Lockport and NIagara Falls papers; the Guild represents a group that is the equivalent of The News’ mailers. There will be another meeting in two weeks.

Tan said she is supposed to have lunch with publisher Tom Wiley; a previous lunch appointment was canceled.

Old business 

The Typographical unit contract was unanimously approved, Tan said.

It was a “very gratifying” membership meeting at Millennium Hotel, Tan said, as most members showed up and asked lots of questions in a four-hour meeting. The tentative agreement was based on 12 people taking buyouts, and 12 have signed up, Tan said.

Kathy Mooney said it was a good meeting and that she was also very happy with the response from members as 18 of 22 showed up. “I think they really appreciate the Guild now,” Mooney said.

Tan noted that the Guild is going to need Typographical representatives on the executive committee as Mooney and Karen Hipp will be taking the buyout.

“I really feel good that I was a part of something to leave it better than what had been left behind,” said Hipp.

Past President Phil Fairbanks said “from Day One, Sandy and I realized that the two of you were the voices of the members, and … we needed to gain your confidence. Thank you for making this happen.”

Mooney said, “we couldn’t be in better hands now,” as she and Hipp noted that the people that are still part of the unit have a “renewed energy” and have “never had this kind of representation before.”

“It feels good, it’s a good accomplishment,” Hipp said.

The bargaining team is scheduled to get together for a meal at Karen’s house soon, Tan said.

New business 

M/S/C Fairbanks/Scanlon to approve that no Guild dues will be taken out of paychecks that Typographical unit members are receiving as part of their buyouts, as has been past practice for the Guild with other buyouts.

Tan said that hopefully most memebrs had received Guild reimbursement checks from the furlough weeks; those monies are offset by the lost time account that The News provided The Guild.

Tan and Leiser said that originally the News was going to pay some of the monies to members; when The News said those monies would be paid as a bonus and would have corresponding tax implications, the Guild decided to take all the monies as lost time and thus send out the reimbursement checks to its members.

Tan and Leiser noted that the Guild has already spent some of that lost time fund via Typographical Unit negotiations.

Leiser does not believe that the monies from the Guild counts as taxable income.

“Thank you,” said Mike Pesarchick. “Every little bit helps.”

Tan said that management has said after Labor Day would be the soonest that the newsroom would return to One News Plaza.

Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:03 p.m.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Vice President/Grievances Aaron Besecker, Treasurer and Inside Circulation delegate Diana Gawron, Secretary Keith McShea, Administrative Officer Kim Leiser, Typographical dayside steward Karen Hipp, Typographical delegate Kathy Mooney, District Manager steward Joan Portman, District Manager alternate delegate Bob Snyder, Editorial nightside chief steward Mike Pesarchick, Editorial delegate David Robinson, Editorial delegate Mike Harrington, Editorial delegate Scott Scanlon, Past President Phil Fairbanks.

Excused: Vice President/Mobilization Rachel Lenzi, Sun Papers steward Lian Bunny.

Absent: ABC chief steward Felice McMillion, Editorial delegate Mark Sommer, Typographical nightside steward Mark Hanover, Editorial alternate delegate Jeff Miers.