Local Meeting Minutes: Oct. 13, 2021

President Sandy Tan called the afternoon meeting to order at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday Oct., 13, 2021, via Zoom.

Vice President/Grievances Aaron Besecker informed members the grievance committee and executive committee the day before had discussed two items of concern. The first was the issue of tweets, sent from the Buffalo News account, that are sponsored content (mainly food-related) but not labeled as such in the tweet. The Guild is raising this as an issue with the company and hopes to get its cooperation in resolving it, Besecker said. Second, Guild leaders are concerned about the outsourcing of ABC work to a Lee site in Richmond, Va. No Guild member has lost a job, but the company didn’t provide notice of the work shifting out of town. The Guild plans to send a letter to The News raising its concerns about how it was handled.

Tan addressed the changes in how The News is processing expense reports, given the shift in work to Richmond. She said the Guild has heard of some members having issues in getting expense reports processed or not getting the full amount owed to them. She asked if anyone on the call has had a similar problem but no one spoke up.

Tan, filling in for Vice President for Mobilization Rachel Lenzi, said that now that The News is owned by Lee Enterprises, it’s important the Guild maintain a higher profile in the community. That’s why said she was disappointed with the turnout of members for the South Buffalo Labor Day Parade. She said we need member participation in activities and events now more than ever.

Tan pointed out that members may have noticed more security around The News parking lot recently. She said management wants to have more guards around to keep an eye on the parking lot, where there have been some concerning incidents. She also noted the company that has cleaned The News for about three decades lost its contract with The News and will be replaced with a new contractor.

Tan said members should keep an eye out for future offerings of Guild-branded swag, such as shirts, lanyards and face masks. Some members chimed in with their own ideas, such as Guild-branded beer in a partnership with a local brewery.

Tan also provided some guidance on retirement benefits, noting the pension enhancement won’t come until Lee freezes the Guild pension. She urged members who have recently retired, or are considering retiring soon, to wait to start drawing from their pensions until the pension is frozen and the enhancements take effect. She said it also may be smarter to wait to leave The News until the pension is frozen. She also noted company 401K contributions won’t begin until the pension is frozen. The amount is determined by years of service at the time the pension is frozen. And, she said, workers continue to accumulate years of service toward their pensions until it is frozen.

Tan also said the Guild is planning to hold a holiday party on Friday Dec. 3. However, following some discussion, organizers agreed to look at a Thursday night for the event as well.

Tan adjourned the meeting at 12:38 p.m.

A similar general meeting was held in the evening. It was started by Tan at 5:30 p.m. and was ended at 6:29 p.m. Forty members total attended the two meetings.