A lot has happened over the past few weeks, some of it good, some of it sad and some of it bad. Here’s an update on what’s been transpiring that Guild members should know now.
First and foremost, this has been a heartbreaking time for the newsroom. We have lost two Guild members too young.
High school sports reporter Miguel Rodriguez died from Covid-19 complications on Jan. 31 at age 47. Eric DuVall, an assistant city editor, died on Feb. 12, apparently in his sleep. He was 39.
The Guild has expressed support for Miguel’s family with catered meals and a floral arrangement. In Eric’s case, the Guild is making a donation to support the journalism department of Canisius College, where Eric was an alum. We have also offered to partner with The News on any other efforts to memorialize our former colleagues.
401(k) contributions to begin
After some delay, The News is expected to begin making 401(k) contributions to all eligible Guild members soon, possibly today. In the future, contributions toward employee 401(k)s should be made around the 15th of the month, following the close of the month before. Contributions will not be added to Guild member paychecks but instead be deposited directly into Principal Financial accounts.
Both the Guild and The News have been working over the past few weeks to ensure that the proper amount of 401(k) contributions are made, depending on each employee’s length of service. The News had also suggested that part-time Guild members should not receive the same contractual 401(k) contribution as full-time employees, but only half of what full-timers are eligible to receive. The Guild rejected the company’s position, so all eligible full-time and part-time employees will receive the same contribution. Eligible employees who do not currently have a 401(k) account will have one opened for them by The News.
Closure of the Orchard Park-West Seneca Sun
News Vice President Brian Connolly has informed the Guild that one of The News’ two remaining weekly Sun papers is folding. Simply put, the paper’s subscription and print advertising revenue numbers have been terrible. The Orchard Park-West Seneca Sun will print its final edition next week. This affects two full-time and one part-time Guild members.
The good news is that it appears no Guild member is in danger of losing his or her job, assuming a bit of personnel reshuffling shakes out as anticipated. The reporters who have worked for the OP-West Seneca Sun would be folded into the Hamburg Sun staff. The current editor of the Hamburg Sun will soon join the main Buffalo News newsroom as a reporter.
Grievance filed over labeling of sports betting ads
Anyone who has spent time looking at our local sports coverage on our website and social media pages has likely seen the sports betting ads and marketing content that are initially mistaken for news stories since they are unlabeled as sponsored content.
The Guild has filed a grievance over many issues we have with this since we specifically negotiated a sponsored content labeling clause in our most recent contract. The company initially denied the grievance but met with the Guild to hear our concerns early last week.
We are meeting with the company again on March 1 and hope The News and Lee Enterprises will make adjustments to address our concerns.
Prepress negotiations to begin
The Guild is gearing up for negotiations with the company over the Prepress contract that will be expiring in April, after a three-month extension. Informal discussions are starting, and formal negotiations begin March 4. The Guild represents 10 members in the Prepress Department.
Hiring for Guild positions
There are numerous Guild positions open right now in virtually every Guild-represented department. We have several reporting positions still open in the newsroom, as well as positions in Inside Circulation, Accounting and District Managers. Some of the new jobs are posted here. Please spread the word.
The Guild has requested to once again meet with management on a quarterly basis to foster better communication between management and employees and to give Guild members an opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns or offer suggestions. The Labor-Management Committee will meet sometime next month.
If any Guild member has a suggestion for something that should be discussed by the committee or would like to attend, please let Sandy Tan (email@example.com) or Kim Leiser (firstname.lastname@example.org) know.
Free Guild masks
Want another Guild mask? We’re giving them away!
Due to a production error by the company we ordered from, we have almost 200 extra masks with adjustable ear loops but no adjustable nose wire. The manufacturer picked up the costs for the error. Anyone interested should contact Sandy Tan.
Mark your calendar
The next Guild general membership meeting will be held on March 9. Please make plans to attend. There’s a lot going on and we want to make sure everyone stays informed. We are hopeful we’ll be able to host one in person and one via Zoom. Stay tuned for more information.