Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: March 7, 2022

President Sandra Tan called the executive committee meeting to order by Zoom at 5:05 p.m. Monday, March 7, 2022.

Motion/Second/Carried Harrington/Lenzi to approve the Feb. 7 executive committee meeting minutes.

Grievance Report

Vice President Contract Administration Scott Scanlon said in recent weeks, following prodding from Guild representatives via the grievance process, The Buffalo News website has done a better job labeling promotional or sponsored content. Scanlon said The News pledged to stop putting unlabeled content on its Facebook and Twitter feeds as well. Scanlon said it became obvious The News seemed unprepared for the volume of ads for mobile sports gambling that appeared following legalization of this practice in New York. Scanlon said it now appears The News and Lee have met the provisions in the contract regarding sponsored content.

He said the Guild remains concerned about the labeling of sports stories, especially high school sports stories, as “sponsored by Draft Kings,” but this language doesn’t appear to violate state gambling laws. Scanlon said the Guild is waiting for a letter outlining in writing what The News has verbally agreed to before it will close out this grievance.

Mobilization Report – None

President’s Report

President Sandy Tan said she hopes the Labor Management Committee will meet in March for the first time in years. The Guild has requested that all department heads attend the meeting. Tan is seeking questions from Guild members to ask at the meeting and wants to know if anyone from the Guild is interested in taking part. Secretary Steve Watson expressed interest.
Tan said all funds from the Prepress account finally have been transferred into the Guild’s coffers. Level Financial Advisors now is wondering how the Guild wants to invest the funds and wants to see more diversity in the investments for Prepress funds. Tan said a committee will guide the investments.

The Prepress bargaining committee has met a second time and generated proposals around wages and other issues. The Guild had not yet met with the company.

Unfinished Business

The Guild deferred its general membership meeting from March to April to have more to discuss with its members. The Executive Committee decided to move up its April meeting to precede the general membership meeting.

M/S/C Scanlon/Pesarchick to move the Executive Committee meeting from April 18 to April 4 and schedule the general membership meeting for April 6.

The Executive Committee discussed a draft contract between Guild Administrative Officer Kim Leiser and the Chicago Guild. Kim will do bookkeeping work and record organizing for the Chicago Guild, mainly during regular work hours. Her Buffalo Guild work will remain her primary responsibility and the Chicago Guild will reimburse the Buffalo Guild for any lost time. If she must perform any Chicago work outside of normal business hours, the Chicago Guild will pay her overtime, Leiser said.

She said she doesn’t expect this will create a lot of extra work for her, not more than an hour or two a week once she gets settled in to the role. Leiser won’t do any contract negotiating or budget writing for Chicago.

M/S/C Tan/Scanlon to approve the draft agreement between Leiser and the Chicago Guild.

New Business

Leiser said the Guild’s lease on its office expires March 31. The Guild has operated from this space since 2010. The current lease dates to 2018 and is now $397 per month. Leiser said our landlord is offering a $425 monthly rate for a three-year lease, which would amount to a 7% increase. He would agree to a lower monthly rate, she said, but only for a one-year period. Leiser said she recommends signing the three-year lease to lock in the $425 monthly rate because this still is well below market rate for the 550-square-foot office. Leiser said the office is filled with files and she priced out the cost to rent storage space for the files, while giving up the office, and there wouldn’t be much of a savings for the Guild.

M/S/C Sommer/Pesarchick to sign a new, three-year lease at the rate discussed.

The Guild made a $150 contribution to the Canisius College journalism department in memory of Editorial member Eric DuVall, an assistant city editor for The News who died unexpectedly on Feb. 12. DuVall was a Canisius graduate and his mother had recommended the college as a recipient of any donation made in his honor.

M/S/C Pesarchick/Watson to formally approve the contribution.

Lee shareholders were set to vote on candidates for the company’s board of directors at its 2022 annual meeting on March 10. The Guild, which bought $10,000 worth of shares, opted not to travel to speak at the meeting but produced a statement urging the election of the Lee-endorsed director candidates. Tan said the Guild would encourage members to share the statement on social media.

M/S/C Sommer/Scanlon to vote the Guild’s shares in favor of the Lee-endorsed directors, share the statement on the Guild’s social media accounts and send the statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission if possible.

Tan noted that ABC steward Alva Hill, an accounting clerk, was directed to stop assisting News employees with unpaid expenses. Tan said she’s concerned about the effect of this new policy given the role Hill played in helping members. Hill said she was told no other Lee paper has a “middleman” to help employees navigate the expense-reimbursement process. She said

Lee has an employee at its hub who is dedicated to handling Buffalo expense reports. Hill was upset about this change. Tan asked Guild members to keep an eye on how the changes play out.

Tan adjourned the meeting at 6:15 p.m.

Attendance: President Sandy Tan, Secretary Steve Watson, 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, Editorial delegate Rachel Lenzi, ABC steward Alva Hill.

Excused: Vice President Mobilization Aaron Besecker, Treasurer/Typographical nightside steward Hilary Osborn.

Absent: Typographical nightside steward Mark Hanover, Sun Newspapers co-steward Francesca Bond, Sun co-steward James Farrell, District Manager steward Joan Portman, DM alternate delegate Bob Snyder.