Buffalo local changing with the times

The Guild, like the newspaper industry, is changing.

In Buffalo, change means a new home on the Chippewa Strip, a new way of communicating news and information and a new – and hopefully more appealing – schedule of membership meetings.

The reforms are among the most dramatic ever undertaken by the Buffalo local and are intended to improve membership participation while trimming expenses.

“We’re making changes that we believe will encourage involvement,” said Local Service Representative Tammy Turnbull, a member of the Guild’s Healthy Locals Committee. “We’re excited because a lot of union members took part in bringing about these important changes.”

Of all the reforms, the most important is how and when union members meet collectively to make decisions about the Guild.

Union members voted last month to cancel the regular July and August local meetings in hopes of using that time to develop a strategy for increasing attendance at membership meetings.

Any permanent changes in the Guild’s meeting schedule, or how it informs members of those meetings, would require membership approval.
While the local looks at alternatives, the union’s Executive Committee will continue to meet monthly and members are encouraged to attend. The Committee’s first meeting is noon, Tuesday, July 28 in the fifth-floor cafeteria of The Buffalo News.

One of the alternatives under consideration is a switch from monthly to quarterly membership meetings. If that happened, it’s likely the Executive Committee would meet more often and take on more authority in running the union’s day-to-day operations.

The Guild, as part of its reforms, also is redesigning its Web site and converting the Frontier Reporter, its monthly newsletter, to an online-only publication.

The move to an Internet newsletter is not just a cost-saving measure, although it does help the bottom line as the local deals with declining local membership. It also provides the Guild with the flexibility to update members with news and information rapidly and regularly.

“If all goes as expected, people will be able to go to the Web site and find something new and informative every week,” said Sandy Tan, vice president of mobilization. “We hope it will play a huge role in keeping our members connected to an organization they give money and time to support.”

Aside from the Frontier Reporter, which will serve as the backbone to the new-and-improved site, http://www.buffaloguild.org will also feature an updated list of active grievances, the latest on Guild activities and opportunities to get involved.

For Guild members without online access, a paper version of the Frontier Reporter will be posted on all Guild bulletin boards.

In the midst of all these changes, Guild leaders found themselves confronted with another major decision – what to do about the union’s home in the Larkin Building on Exchange Street.

With the recent round of buy outs and lay offs, it became clear the Guild could no longer afford the $1,550 a month rent at the Larkin.

Again, with an eye toward saving money, the union bought out its lease – the local paid a $6,000 penalty – and moved to a less expensive office at the Root Building on Chippewa Street near Delaware Avenue.

The move means the Guild is returning downtown and with a rent that is less than half what it paid on Exchange Street.

The Guild’s new address is Suite 611, 70 W. Chippewa St., Buffalo, 14202, above the Emerson Cooking School.