Buffalo News changing corporate structure

The Buffalo News is restructuring – again.

News management recently informed the Guild of its intent to legally change its internal corporate organization, but said the move will not alter the company’s long standing relationship with the union or its members.

Company executives also rejected any suggestion that the move is a first step in Berkshire Hathaway selling or closing the paper.

The restructuring would make The News, now a division of Old Berkshire Hathaway, wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. Old Berkshire Hathaway also is wholly-owed subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

“This restructuring should not be viewed as any kind of precursor to a sale of The Buffalo News,” said Daniel Farberman, vice president of human resources.

The Guild, when informed of the News’ plans, negotiated an agreement that will help protect its members.

The agreement, recently signed by both sides, will help insure that the restructuring does not alter the terms and conditions of Guild members’ employment at The News.

“Our goal from the start was to protect our contract and our members,” said Local Service Representative Tammy Turnbull.

Turnbull said Guild leaders questioned management about their motivation in making the change and heard, over and over again, that it amounts to internal corporate housekeeping.

Nevertheless, the Guild felt compelled to negotiate an agreement that insures its contract with The News continues after the new ownership structure is in place.

Union leaders negotiated the agreement with the help of Marian Needham, a Guild international representative, and Barbara L. Camens, general counsel of the Guild.

Camens said the agreement will help insure that the Guild’s contract with the paper continues under the new ownership structure.

“As we discussed, I am generally comfortable with the assignment, because (The Buffalo News) clearly assumes all liabilities thereunder, and employment shall be deemed to have continued uninterrupted in all respects,” Camens said in an email to Needham.

Local members learned of the restructuring late last year and, at the December membership meeting, authorized the Guild Executive Committee to ratify the agreement once it was reviewed and approved by Camens.

Farberman said The News is the only Berkshire company without its own corporate structure, a distinction that will change this year.

“This is really internal house keeping,” he said.

The News underwent a similar restructuring about 5 years ago.