Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: Feb. 7, 2022

President Sandra Tan called the executive committee meeting to order by Zoom at 5:07 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.

Tan began the meeting by asking committee members to observe a moment of silence for Editorial member Miguel Rodriguez, a News high school sports reporter who died Jan. 31 from complications of Covid-19.

Motion/Second/Carried Besecker/Harrington to approve the Jan. 11 executive committee meeting minutes.

President’s Report

Tan began her report by addressing personnel matters within the building. First, she noted The News is making staffing changes that will lead to fewer security guards working at the building. She added the guards are contractors hired by an outside firm, which will deploy fewer of them to The News.

Tan said Accounting still is down one employee but the newsroom is growing through a number of reporting hires.

Administrative Officer Kim Leiser said News executives have come to believe there are too many people working security in the building at the same time. She said the cuts probably will leave just one guard working on a shift at a time.

Tan said The News is reconvening the Labor Management Committee after a considerable period where it was dormant. She said the Guild still has questions about how it will work and how forthcoming News executives, under Lee Enterprises ownership, will be at future meetings. She said Guild members have little opportunity to get updates directly from News executives, noting Editor Mike Connelly’s state of the newsroom meetings ended in May.

District Manager steward Joan Portman pointed out the previous weekend brought more problems delivering the newspaper, saying Sunday Feb. 6 had 20 “down” routes out of the Central distribution office. She said The News is in desperate need of more carriers.

Editorial delegate Mike Harrington then asked why Publisher Tom Wiley isn’t part of the newly reconfigured Labor Management Committee. Tan said she had requested that Wiley take part in the committee meetings, and News Vice President Tammy Turnbull said she would pass along the request. Tan said no date has been set for the first meeting.

Mobilization Report

Vice President Mobilization Aaron Besecker said he sent a flyer out in late January to Inside Circulation members about two new positions, a retention manager and a retention specialist. He also sent out a couple of tweets through the Guild account about our concerns over News/Lee sports betting posts.

Tan said the Guild Happy New Year cards finally went out. She also said there are extra face masks available at her desk for anyone who wants them.

Editorial delegate Mark Sommer asked a question about Alden Global Capital’s efforts to take over Lee Enterprises. He asked if anyone knew how often Alden comes back with another offer, after the first bid is rejected, and how long that process can take?

Besecker said he didn’t know. Sommer also asked whether Alden ever loses a takeover campaign, and it was pointed out that Alden did not succeed in acquiring Gannett.

Tan then started a discussion about whether a Guild representative should attend the upcoming Lee annual shareholders meeting.

The Guild, she noted, is a Lee shareholder. Editorial delegate David Robinson, The News’ deputy business editor, said annual meetings have shifted toward “corporate theater” and business reporters find less value in attending them these days. The discussion continued but no decision was made.

Grievance Report

Vice President Contract Administration Scott Scanlon said the Guild filed a grievance about two weeks ago over news stories on our website and tweets on The News’ Twitter feed that promote sports betting. Tan, Leiser and Scanlon met with Turnbull and Deputy Managing Editor Margaret Kenny to discuss the matter. Tan said the Guild representatives made several requests of management, including insisting that all advertorial content be clearly labeled. Scanlon said Turnbull and Kenny told the Guild they need to go back to Lee corporate about the issue.

Unfinished Business

Tan said the pre-press bargaining unit has started meeting and working on its proposals for bargaining with The News. March 4 is the first official bargaining date.

New Business

There was a lengthy discussion of the question of how The News should handle 401K contributions to part-time members once the pension is frozen. The News had argued part-timers should get half the payments of full-time employees, Tan recounted. The executive committee ended up reaching a consensus that part-time employees should receive the same payments as full-timers because the contract’s language doesn’t explicitly say otherwise.

Tan said the Guild paid for two meals for Miguel Rodriguez’s family and Leiser ordered flowers to send to the funeral home on behalf of the Guild.

M/S/C Besecker/Sommer to cover the cost of the flowers and any additional costs for meals for Rodriguez’s family.
Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:19 p.m.

The next executive committee meeting is set for March 7, followed by a general membership meeting on March 9.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Secretary Steve Watson, Vice President Mobilization Aaron Besecker, Vice President Contract Administration Scott Scanlon, Editorial delegate Mike Harrington, Editorial delegate Mark Sommer, Administrative Officer Kim Leiser, Editorial nightside steward Mike Pesarchick, Editorial delegate David Robinson, Treasurer/Typographical nightside steward Hilary Osborn, District Manager steward Joan Portman, Editorial delegate Rachel Lenzi.

Excused: District Manager alternate delegate Bob Snyder.

Absent: Typographical nightside steward Mark Hanover, Sun co-steward Francesca Bond, ABC steward Alva Hill, Sun Newspapers co-steward James Farrell, Circulation steward Sophia Canahai.