MOBILE BILLBOARD BRINGS GUILD MESSAGES TO DAVENPORT, IOWA
Buffalo, NY – Today the Buffalo Newspaper Guild | CWA Local 31026 announced additional support from regional and national leaders, including statements by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee member Rep. Brian Higgins. These leaders (excerpts below) are calling on the new owner of The Buffalo News—which is Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises—to negotiate in good faith with Guild representatives and avoid potential job cuts, benefit reductions, creative and design position outsourcing, and the unnecessary shifting of pension funds out-of-state.
“As we’ve said over the last several days, the Guild is at a critical juncture in our negotiations with Lee Enterprises, and we implore the company to reach terms with us that will protect local jobs and keep our award-winning newsroom products intact,” said Guild President Sandra Tan. “The Buffalo News is part of the fabric of Western New York. It would be a total disservice to our many valued readers and advertisers to ship jobs out of town and weaken the community appeal of our news operation. We understand the need for any company to make money, but we ask Lee to reconsider proposals borne of pure corporate greed.”
The existing Guild contract is set to expire on Saturday, July 31, 2021. As such, Guild
negotiators have requested that Lee Enterprises officials attempt to reach terms in a constructive,
collaborative and expedited manner.
They are not alone in their call for Lee Enterprises to come to the table in the spirit of
“The Buffalo News is one of the premier upstate newspapers, thanks largely to its dedicated and
professional workforce,” said Sen. Schumer., the U.S. Senate majority leader on Thursday. “It is
my sincere hope that both sides come to an equitable agreement, maintain local jobs, and bolster
the already strong news gathering organization – requests which I made directly in a call to the
publisher. With a new contract, both the Buffalo News and its employees can get back to
keeping Western New Yorkers informed and engaged.”
“The talent and insight provided by the Guild members cannot be replicated,” said U.S. Rep.
Brian Higgins. “As has been seen in so many other communities across the country, when news
services are cut back, those services are often gone forever at the expense of the community.”
During the ongoing negotiations with Lee Enterprises, the Guild has undertaken a series of
mobilization efforts to demonstrate its robust community support and also educate company
executives on the unique legacy of Western New York’s longstanding paper of record. Such
efforts included mobile and roadside billboards (including one, pictured, that circled Lee
Enterprises headquarters on Thursday), a print and electronic byline strike, a regional petition
that garnered nearly 1,800 resident and reader signatures, a series of paid media message
placements and advertisements, substantial social media activity, organized labor support, and
bipartisan endorsements from well over 20 elected officials at all levels of government.
Lee Enterprises, the Iowa-based media chain that bought The Buffalo News early last year,
began contract negotiations in February by seeking the power to easily lay off Guild-represented
workers. Lee also wanted—and still demands—the ability to freeze workers’ pensions, even
though the pension costs the company nothing. The company would take tens of millions of
dollars in pension money set aside for Buffalo News employees and use it to prop up their other
underfunded and frozen pension plans.
Ultimately, Lee’s remaining bargaining proposals, which include outsourcing the jobs of copy
editors and international award-winning page designers, will diminish the paper and hurt the
community’s access to strong local news coverage.
“The calls for Lee Enterprises and The Buffalo News to be good corporate citizens have not
ceased,” said Kim Leiser, the Guild bargaining team’s chief negotiator. “We will continue to
protect our members and fight to keep the news operation that our community holds so dear.”
Learn more about our campaign and sign our petition: ProtectLocalJournalism.com
Follow on Facebook and Twitter @BuffaloGuild
The Buffalo Newspaper Guild, one of the oldest newspaper unions in the country, represents
roughly 150 Buffalo News and weekly Sun paper employees, including most newsroom staff and
employees in Circulation, Accounting and Prepress. The Guild also represents workers at four
independent print shops in Western New York.