Guild preparing for contract talks: News conducts insurance presentation for unions

3/20/14 — The Buffalo Newspaper Guild’s bargaining team is gearing up for another round of contract negotiations with News management. While no bargaining sessions have yet been scheduled, the Guild team has begun to prepare for the talks.

Results from the recent Guild membership survey have been tabulated and discussed among bargaining team members. Results of the survey show a number of issues remain important to Guild members, including health insurance, wages and job security.

In addition, The News has stated that it is interested in moving to a self-funded health insurance model, and the bargaining team has begun to educate itself about this complicated issue. Self-funding is a method of providing health insurance to employees by a business taking on the actual financial cost of the medical care to employees instead of paying premiums to an insurance company.

At the start of this year, the company combined all employees, including those in the Guild and other bargaining units, into a plant-wide pool for health insurance purposes. This is seen as the first step in moving toward self-insurance.

Guild and other union representatives heard more about News management’s self-funded insurance ideas at a March 7 presentation from a consulting firm hired by The News. The session was held in The News auditorium, and all unions were invited to send representatives. There was an opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion with the consultants from Towers Watson.

The consultants said that they are still analyzing whether self-funded health insurance makes financial sense for The News, but suggested that the model could offer a way to reduce insurance expenses and better control future costs.

The News has stated that it is evaluating the option for some point in the future, and not necessarily for 2015.

The Guild’s bargaining team consists of President Henry Davis, Treasurer Kim Leiser from Circulation, along with ABC’s Felice McMillion, and Mark Sommer and Aaron Besecker of Editorial. Local staff representative Tammy Turnbull and TNG staff representative Marian Needham round out the team.