Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

News

    Update on freelancer issues with Buffalo News management

    Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by The Guild

    The Buffalo Newspaper Guild informed its membership June 8 that some digital freelancers increased how much they wrote for The Buffalo News while Guild members are furloughed, according to the Guild’s research.

    Management has responded to our flier, saying that overall freelance spending for the month of April is down compared with the same period last year, and the Guild’s position is wrong.

    We don’t think so. Instead, we fear management is missing the point.

    Management’s response also included having a freelancer write columns on two of the biggest stories in the country: the Buffalo Bills’ first black QB discussing the George Floyd protests, and an interview with the WBFO reporter who shot the video of Martin Gugino being pushed by Buffalo police.

    Guild members should find this egregious and wholly unacceptable.

    As stated in our original message, an uptick in certain freelance work is occurring even though Guild leaders shared concerns with management, just prior to the scheduling of furloughs, about the increased reliance on freelancers to cover news.

    It’s no surprise that freelance spending is down for April when you consider the shutdowns of topics where the News uses freelancers — high school sports, restaurant reviews, theatre reviews and bar/restaurant items. Yet despite all this, it seems The News has still found a way to give some freelancers more work than usual.

    The Guild’s research has found:

    • One cityside/sports freelancer wrote an average of 2.5 columns per week over the first five weeks Guild members were on furlough. Over the first year of writing for buffalonews.com, this freelancer averaged 1.67 columns a week.
    • A second freelancer also has written more, at the same time our two full-time hockey writers began furloughs and at a time when no NHL games are being played. In February and March of this year, that freelancer wrote a total of six pieces over that two-month period. But since April 22, when two sports reporters began taking furloughs, the freelancer recently wrote four pieces in a 21-day span.
    •  As detailed in the May 27 memo to newsroom managers, these freelancers have written on everything from a local source’s perspective on the Kent State shooting anniversary to proposed NHL draft changes and Mike Robitaille’s lost championship ring. These are newsworthy subject areas that should fall within the purview of furloughed staff members and be available to both our print and online readers.

    Management should not prioritize freelance work over work that is done by Guild members. And we are asking our members to spread and share the Guild message on social media and prioritize staff over freelancer work when sharing online content.

    Guild members show support during furlough on social media

    Thursday, June 11, 2020 by The Guild

    The Guild has begun engaging in acts of solidarity on social media since the furloughs began for all other Guild members. That includes changing social media images/avatars to the black Guild logo, “going dark” on social media and encouraging people to subscribe to The News through a special subscription link, which makes it clear that people are subscribing specifically in support of our members.

    As always, while the Guild is physically separated, all members will continue to receive important updates via email, buffaloguild.org and through our Twitter and Facebook accounts, which includes messages we encourage all Guild members to share.

    Link to Guild subscription special: https://bit.ly/3bKlgUa

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    What is it like to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic?

    Thursday, June 11, 2020 by The Guild

    The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted how we live and how we work, particularly for Guild members in the newsroom of The Buffalo News. Mike McAndrew, the News’ watchdog team editor and a member of the Guild’s Executive Committee, and Sean Kirst, news-side columnist, share their perspectives on how the working landscape has individually and collectively changed because of the pandemic.

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    Warren Colville called “forward-thinking leader” as he retires

    Thursday, June 11, 2020 by The Guild

    Warren Colville has stepped down as publisher of The Buffalo News, a change that raises a flood of concerns regarding the future of the paper under Lee Enterprises.

    Colville announced May 5 that he is stepping down from his post after 33 years with the News, including his tenure as president, which began in 2001, and as president and publisher, which began in 2013. continue»

    Guild votes for furlough agreements

    Thursday, June 11, 2020 by The Guild

    Buffalo Newspaper Guild members voted 65-2 on April 10 in favor of a tentative agreement that will allow Buffalo News management to furlough Guild members across the board, for the first time.

    The approval of the agreement reflects member support for a plan the Guild bargaining team devised, which mitigates financial losses to members with little-to-no cost to the company.

    It also reflects the mutual concern of both management and the Guild about the paper’s financial state, during the Covid-19 pandemic. A week later, Guild members in the Typographical Unit representing Prepress employees at The Buffalo News voted unanimously on April 17 in favor of a tentative agreement that will allow Buffalo News management to furlough most members for up to five weeks. continue»

    Newsroom management expands use of freelancers while Guild members are furloughed

    Monday, June 8, 2020 by The Guild

    At the same time the owners of The Buffalo News pushed to have every member of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild take two weeks of furlough, newsroom management found one way to cover for having fewer workers around.

    They got some freelancers to do more.

    While Guild members were forced to stay home from work and give up paychecks, at least two digital freelancers increased how much they wrote for the News, according to the Guild’s research.

    This is occurring even though Guild leaders shared concerns with management, just prior to the scheduling of furloughs, about the increased use of freelancers during this difficult time. In response, management assured us they did not intend to expand the use of freelancers and were looking to scale back freelance usage during the furlough period.

    Yet what some freelancers have written has steadily continued to encroach on the type of work Guild members have done or are doing.

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    Tentative agreement for Guild furloughs in Prepress unanimously approved

    Saturday, April 18, 2020 by The Guild

    Guild members in the Typographical Unit representing Prepress employees at The Buffalo News voted unanimously Friday in favor of a tentative agreement that will allow Buffalo News management to furlough most members for up to five weeks.

    The agreement enables Prepress members to not only gain financially, in most cases, due to New York’s enhanced unemployment benefits, but it also saves the company about $45,000 above and beyond the two-week furlough directive laid out by Lee Enterprises.

    “This agreement saves the company and Lee more than twice what the company originally demanded in furlough savings, and it still protects and benefits the Prepress Guild members at The News,” Guild President Sandy Tan said. “That’s the best possible outcome.”

    The Executive Committee approved the tentative agreement Thursday night, followed by two membership meetings for Prepress members in Composing, Ad Services and Advertising Operations on Friday.

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    Guild members approve agreement to allow furloughs

    Saturday, April 11, 2020 by The Guild

    Buffalo Newspaper Guild members voted 65-2 Friday in favor of a tentative agreement that will allow Buffalo News management to furlough Guild members across the board, for the first time.

    The approval of the agreement reflects member support for a plan the Guild bargaining team devised, which mitigates financial losses to members with little-to-no cost to the company. It also reflects the mutual concern of both management and the Guild about the paper’s financial state.

    “This is a sad time for the Guild,” said President Sandy Tan. “This agreement will help protect our members financially, but the furloughs will do nothing but damage the paper’s ability to continue producing outstanding, critical, and even life-saving journalism at a time when it’s needed most.”

    In exchange for The News meeting the Guild bargaining team’s requirements that it mitigate financial hardship for members, we met our commitment to engage in intense-but-swift negotiations. The bargaining team and Executive Committee brought forward the tentative agreement for a membership vote quickly enough to enable the company to begin scheduling furloughs next week.

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    A message from the Buffalo Newspaper Guild

    Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by The Guild

    The Buffalo Newspaper Guild has never been prouder of the outstanding journalism produced by our members than during this Covid-19 public health crisis.

    Unfortunately, we received word that, as a Lee Enterprises paper, The Buffalo News plans to subject our members to furloughs over the next three months. This directive comes at a time when our public work has never been more important to this community.

    As a union, our members are protected by existing contract language. But in recognition of The Buffalo News’ financial circumstances as a result of lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have begun discussing the best path forward to safeguard our members’ future. Our hard work on behalf of this community is undermined by an economic model that seeks to destroy the critically important work that newspapers play in keeping the public informed, protected and safe.

    The Guild will do its part to ensure the best possible outcome for our members. We hope the company will work with us in good faith. And above all, we hope the public will support our work and mission.

    Volunteers needed for annual John “Jay” Bonfatti shoreline cleanup

    Tuesday, March 3, 2020 by The Guild

    In honor of our late News colleague John “Jay” Bonfatti, Guild members will once again participate in the annual Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Spring Shoreline Sweep.

    The Shoreline Sweep will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 25.

    Every year, Guild members help clean up the Ohio Street Boat Launch and Father Conway Park in the city’s historic First Ward in honor of Bonfatti, a reporter who died in 2008. He loved the outdoors and believed strongly in caring for the environment.

    Here are some guidelines:

    1. Volunteers are expected to dress appropriately for the weather and bring their own water.

    2. Please arrive on time. Site Captains will be greeting volunteers from no earlier than 9:30 a.m. or later than 10:30 a.m.

    3. Guild members are encouraged to bring responsible children, but they must be accompanied by a parent at all times.

    Oh, and did we mention there’s an afterparty?

    Please email Ellen Przepasniak by April 15 to volunteer.