Guild cuts costs; moves back downtown

Fallout from the decline in newspapers isn’t limited to employers.

Unions are confronting the same monumental changes in the industry and, here in Buffalo, that translates into fewer members and less dues revenue.

It also means dramatic changes in how the local spends its money.

“With fewer members and less dues coming in, we need to adjust our costs to bring them in line with our smaller membership base,” said David Robinson, a financial reporter and a member of the Guild’s Finance Committee.

As part of the Guild’s cost-cutting effort, the union’s offices are moving from the Larkin Building on Exchange Street this month to smaller, less-expensive space in the Root Building on Chippewa Street.

The move will save the local up to $80,000 over the next five years and remove it from a costly five-year lease at the Larkin. The local will pay a one-time $6,000 penalty to get out of the lease.

“The office is one of our bigger expenses, so it’s also one of our biggest opportunities to find significant savings,” said Robinson.

The office relocation is just one of the measures, albeit a large one, being recommended by the Finance Committee, the group overseeing the cost-saving initiative.

The committee has spent the past several months looking at where the Guild can save money in the wake of buyouts and layoffs that eroded the union’s ranks. The local has lost more than 100 members over the past two years.

“Obviously, the loss of members meant we had to revise our financial projections,” said Brian Connolly, a newsroom editor and Finance Committee member. “We evaluated our options and identified some areas where we thought we could realize savings.”

The biggest is the change in office space.

“We need to cut our expenses. It’s that simple,” said Finance Chairman Dave Irwin, a district manager. “We think this is a good deal for the union.”

As part of the agreement negotiated by the Committee and Local Service Representative Tammy Turnbull, the Guild will end its current lease at the Larkin. The lease, which had five years left on it, cost the local $1,550 a month.

To get out of the lease, the Guild agreed to pay a $6,000 one-time penalty. The union also agreed to a new, one-year lease at the Root Building, one of the Larkin’s other properties. The rent there is $725 a month.

“No one is thrilled about paying a penalty, but the huge, overall savings warrant the upfront cost,” said Turnbull.

The deal will save the Guild money and provide time for the union to find a more permanent and even less-costly space.

The quicker than expected departure from the Larkin – the Guild moved on June 18 – became necessary when the building made it a condition to the overall deal.

The quicker-than-expected departure from the Larkin — the Guild will move June 18 — became necessary when the building made it a condition to the overall deal.

The agreement, which was endorsed by the Local’s Executive Committee, will be subject to a vote during this month’s membership meeting.

“What we ended up with is a very good deal for the Guild that should put us on solid ground going forward,” Connolly said.

The June meeting, originally scheduled for the Larkin Building, is being moved to the Guild’s new offices in the Root Building, 70 West Chippewa St., Suite 611, downtown Buffalo.

The offices are located on the top floor of the building, above the Emerson cooking school and just a few doors down from Spot Coffee.