Buffalo Newspaper Guild

CWA Local 31026

FAQ

What is the Buffalo Newspaper Guild?

 The Buffalo Newspaper Guild is the largest union at The Buffalo News. It is affiliated with the Newspaper Guild, which is part of the Communication Workers of America.

What is important about a union?

Workers need representation inside the workplace. This goes beyond bargaining for wages and benefits. Unions also give workers a voice when they have safety concerns or grievances.

Your wages, benefits and working conditions are protected by a binding and legal contract. We’ll work with you to improve the workplace, and represent you if you face any disciplinary action.

Who belongs to the Buffalo Newspaper Guild?

The Guild represents about 235 employees at The Buffalo News. We represent most employees in the newsroom, and the Classified Advertising, Circulation, and Accounting departments.

What is collective bargaining?

Representatives of the union and the company determine the conditions of employment through direct negotiation, usually resulting in a written contract that sets wages, benefits and other conditions to be observed for a stipulated period of time.

What kind of job protection does the Guild offer?

The Buffalo Newspaper Guild has a history of offering excellent job protection to its members. The contract calls for The News to provide proof of “economic instability” at the paper before it can lay off Guild members. Recent history has also shown that most reductions have been achieved through buyouts and severance packages, encouraging employees to leave voluntarily in most cases.

How much are dues and why must we pay them?

Dues are equal to 1.7811 percent of Guild members’ weekly gross wages. Dues also are deducted from additional compensation, such as merit pay, overtime, commissions and incentives.

Dues provide The Guild with the financial resources needed to conduct day-to-day business, to represent its members, and to protect members’ interests in the workplace and in the community.

Costs to manage the Guild include negotiating contracts, enforcing the contract through grievances and arbitrations, legal fees, defense fund investment advice, newsletters, research on pensions and health insurance plans, training and education of union representatives, Guild officer stipends, and to pay for a local staff representative and Guild office.

Perhaps the single biggest expense is a monthly “per capita” dues payment to The Guild’s international headquarters, Communication Workers of America, in Washington, D.C.

What is “seniority” and how does it affect Guild members?

Seniority keeps personal feelings out of decisions, such as for scheduling in The News’ classified and inside circulation departments, as well as for part-time district managers. Seniority ensures fairness in decisions, such as in the event of layoffs. Seniority allows for current employees to be given preference in filling vacancies at The News.

What is “jurisdiction” and why is it important?

Our contract reads, “The jurisdiction of the Guild is the kind of work normally and presently performed within the unit covered by this contract.” This may be the most important sentence in our contract with The Buffalo News.

Jurisdiction is the work we do, whether it’s writing stories, shooting photographs, editing copy or designing graphics. The contract language defining it is the only way the Guild can assure that the work we do today continues to be the work we do tomorrow.

The jurisdiction clause is one of the few aspects of the contract that prevents the company from farming out our jobs. This goes for the newsroom, as well as for circulation, classified and accounting.

Who runs the Guild?

The members run this union. Members elect the officers. The officers – president, vice president of mobilization, vice president of contract administration, treasurer and secretary – report to an executive committee made up of representatives from editorial; classified advertising; circulation; and accounting, bookkeeping and credit.

Guild officers carry out the day-to-day business of the union. The executive committee meets once a month, and has oversight over all major policies and expenditures. The Guild also conducts quarterly membership meetings in the main News auditorium.

The Guild is a transparent organization, meaning our business is done openly and Guild news, announcements and important documents are made available to members.

Who represents my department if there are questions or problems?

Department stewards, who receive a small stipend, make sure the contract is followed and help communicate information to members. They answer questions, help find solutions to problems, and may represent employees in meetings with managers. Stewards should be one of your first contacts if you have a problem on the job.

Stewards also play a key role during contract negotiations by helping mobilize members. The strength of our union is the total energy and support of the members who can be mobilized. When more members get involved, we can accomplish more.

What should you do if you face disciplinary action or if a manager intends to question you about an incident?

You have the right to be informed of the subject matter and to confer privately with a union representative before questioning begins. You have the right to have a union representative speak during the interrogation and to ask questions.

You have the right to be advised by a union representative as to how to answer a question. And, you have the right to offer information following the questioning.

Remember, if you go into a manager’s office alone, it’s your word against theirs if any information from that meeting sparks an issue.

How does the Guild communicate and share information with its members?

The Guild holds quarterly membership meetings and additional special informational meetings during negotiations. We have an active website that is regularly updated, and we send email blasts to members. The website includes minutes of all executive committee and general membership meetings, as well as important documents, including the contract.

We also make use of a Guild “messenger” system that ensures that Guild members have a personal point of contact when time-sensitive information needs to be shared. Finally, we regularly post information to Guild bulletin boards located in every department and distribute fliers on particularly newsworthy information.

How can I learn more about getting involved in the Guild?

The Guild has many committees that need volunteers, including committees for grievances, finances, mobilization and community service. Vacancies are also routinely filled on the Executive Committee. In addition, we offer free training for anyone interested in serving as a Guild steward.

For more information, contact our office at 716-856-2828.