Guild signs off on TV sports show

The Guild Executive Committee over the Labor Day weekend approved an agreement allowing The News to broadcast a television sports show with sports reporters Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason.

The News approached the Guild recently about its interest in the show, which will air live twice a week on Mondays and Fridays on WBBZ-TV, starting this Friday. On short notice, Guild officials worked to find an acceptable contractual way to get the show on the air in time for football season.

A tentative agreement was reached on Thursday, and Executive Committee members had until Sunday evening to vote. Guild members involved in negotiating the agreement believe that the television show is something the union should support, and that the provisions of the deal are sensible.

“Now, more than ever, newspapers must find new, creative ways to attract readers and make money. And, where possible, The Guild needs to find ways to cooperate,” said Guild President Henry Davis. “If The Buffalo News is more successful in print, on the web or on television, it benefits all of us.”

As some of you already know, The News inappropriately published a promotional ad and a column promoting the show in pre-printed sections of Sunday’s newspaper prior to approval of the arrangement.

We communicated a strong condemnation to The News about what happened. Managers said the miscue was a result of miscommunication in the rush to obtain Guild agreement and prepare for the start of the show. Regardless, we told management that the promos jeopardized approval of the agreement and needlessly injected an element of distrust in the matter.

The sports show agreement is based on Article 11, Section 9 of our contract, which anticipates the possibility of bargaining unit members voluntarily and temporarily performing the kind of work not normally or presently performed within the unit. However, the agreement also acknowledges that certain adjustments to that clause are necessary for this situation.

The News will own the show, and the idea is to increase public awareness of our reporters and columnists, as well as The Buffalo News as a brand, and, it’s hoped, increase revenue through sponsorships. The company has secured Vinyl Outlet and Mattress Firm as show sponsors, according to a recent email to employees from Carol Horton, vice president of marketing and public relations.

The television sports show, as well as the agreement, will run through May 30, 2014. Here are the key elements of the agreement:

• When Sullivan and Gleason participate in the show, they will do so under the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, including the temporary work assignment language of Article 11, Section 9.

• The Guild agreed to waive the posting requirement under Article 11, Section 9 and allow The News to select Sullivan and Gleason for this show.

• The Guild agreed to extend the six-month temporary assignment period under Article 11, Section 9, through May 30, 2014. At the expiration of the temporary assignment period (May 30, 2014), the agreement shall end unless the parties have successfully negotiated a successor agreement.

• Sullivan and Gleason will maintain their full-time positions as Buffalo News print journalists and, as such, all hours worked for this show shall occur beyond the 37.5-hour work week, and all additional hours shall be paid at the overtime rate.

• In addition to overtime pay for their participation in the sports show, The News shall pay Sullivan and Gleason an additional stipend for their expertise. The Guild may assist Sullivan and Gleason in the negotiations of their stipends at the request of either employee. Union dues are payable on both their print and broadcast work assignments.

• The Buffalo News may use additional bargaining-unit print journalists as supplements to the sports show or to fill-in for Sullivan and Gleason, and will pay those journalists the same overtime rate and an additional stipend.

• The parties agreed that all compensation related to broadcast assignments for this television sports show will only be paid to Sullivan, Gleason and any other bargaining-unit members while they are performing the work of the sports show.

• The News or The Guild may cancel this agreement with 30 days written notice.

• The parties agreed to negotiate any expansion of the show, the introduction of a new show or any substantive changes to the show.