Making plans for the Buffalo Guild’s future

By Mark Sommer

Eleven members of the Executive Committee took part in a one-day retreat Nov. 2 to look beyond the day-to-day concerns at The Buffalo News.

The gathering in a conference room at the Burchfield Penny Art Center took stock of the challenges the Buffalo Newspaper Guild and other locals are facing around the country during difficult times, and addressed how to strengthen our local as we move forward.

The meeting agenda was shaped by President Henry Davis, Service Representative Tammy Turnbull and TNG-CWA International Representative Marian Needham, and began by sharing perspectives and discussing ideals that reminded folks about the importance of collective action, and why what the Guild does matters.

Later, we moved on to identify areas we agreed needed improvement, broke into small brainstorming groups and after reconvening agreed on courses of action to improve internal outreach and education, and new approaches to consider for collective bargaining.

During our discussions, we recognized the need to pay more attention to the concerns of part-timers and took heed that many workers are disappointed in the Guild for failing to deliver raises in recent years.

We also spoke in the morning with Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newspaper Guild, via Facetime.

During our 15-minute conversation, Lunzer discussed continuing uncertainty within the industry and how unions had a chance to influence those changes for the better.

He praised the Buffalo local as being one of the most effective among all newspaper guilds nationwide. He also held out News Chairman Warren Buffett as an owner who believed in the future of newspapering.

Lunzer discussed possible restructuring within The Newspaper Guild to keep it a strong and vibrant union.

Tammy Turnbull, in noting that membership has dropped within The Newspaper Guild, reinforced the need for locals everywhere to explore how to expand the Guild’s reach. She said it was her understanding some decisions could be made at an April meeting in Pittsburgh, with test projects likely to emerge.

The meeting, according to several participants, ended with those involved feeling refreshed, focused and with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment.