Guild members rally outside News building

rallyThe Buffalo NewsGuild rallied outside The News Dec. 13, demanding a fair contract as negotiations that started back in mid-May headed toward 2017.

The rally was one of several mobilization events that have ramped up over frustration with management’s negotiating position on health care. The Guild has agreed to pay for a portion of premiums after decades of fully paid health insurance, but management insists workers who have gone seven years without a raise must dig into their pockets deeper still.

“You folks deserve better,” said Henry Davis, whose tenure as Guild president ended at the end of December. “You’ve gone seven years without a raise. You’ve done everything you can to control health care costs for this company. You’ve gone out of your way to help them operationally.

“I have tried to be diplomatic, and I think you guys know I’m pretty level,” Davis continued. “But what we’re facing – and there’s no other way to put it — is bullshit, and you guys should not accept it.”

As Davis spoke, Guild members held placards that read, “Protect Quality Journalism,” “Protect Our Health,” and “Greed Is Not Good.”

Sandy Tan, who became Guild president on Jan. 1, also rallied the troops.

“We respect and acknowledge the fact that The News faces challenges ahead, and we support the fact that The News needs to remain profitable to move forward into the future,” Tan said.

“But you know what? Respect is a two-way street, isn’t it? This negotiation is not just about money, it’s about something more meaningful, it’s about respect. We deserve respect. We demand respect! So what are we going to fight for from here on out?”

“Respect!” Guild members answered.

Bob DiCesare amplified that message when it was his turn to speak.

“A lot of us have had to undergo job changes and develop new skills — with marginal training, by the way. This newspaper is profitable, and we’ve made it profitable because we have made sacrifices along the way. It’s time for them to give back,” DiCesare said.

Contract negotiations resume Jan. 9.