In the past, every three years, we have sent out a boilerplate request for nominations for anyone interested in serving in a Guild leadership role. The request normally goes out in October. But this year is different.
Given our new ownership, our union has never played a more vital role in ensuring a stable workplace where careers can grow. A poor leadership transition would be harmful to all.
- We expect major changes in leadership roles next year and have some glaring vacancies that will need filling. So we are getting word out early.
- We want to provide more lead time for anyone curious about serving in a leadership role to speak with someone on the Guild team and explore what greater involvement might entail.
- We will have some unique, fully paid, in-person training opportunities available in October for anyone interested in serving in a Guild role so no one would enter the job unprepared.
- We have some departments with little to no representation at all. We want to change that.
Here are some myths about being a Guild leader:
Myth: The main thing Guild leaders do is get union members out of trouble when they mess up.
Reality: The vast majority of work Guild leaders do has nothing to do with protecting individual Guild members in trouble with management. We focus on improving working conditions for all and making sure that the rules that govern our workplace and duties are reasonable, safe, ethical and fair. We also promote open communication and transparency whenever possible.
Myth: Guild leaders have to be confrontational with managers.
Reality: First, not all Guild leadership positions require much interaction with management. Second, many Guild concerns are resolved in an amicable and cooperative manner. Even when disagreements persist, that doesn’t translate into “meanness.” High-level positions, though, are not ideal for people who fear conflict.
Myth: I’m too inexperienced to make a difference.
Reality: No prior experience is needed for most positions, though it can help. What’s most important is for interested individuals to have strong conviction in the Guild mission, a willingness to devote time and energy to doing the job, and being connected and capable of building consensus while also being an independent thinker.
All officer and steward positions are up at the end of this year. The positions are three-year terms and carry annual stipends that range from $100 to $5,000. Elections will be held for each position unless the position is uncontested. Anyone interested in serving should contact Sandy Tan at santan716[at]gmail[dot]com or Kim Leiser at (716) 856-2828 or buffalonewsguild[at]gmail[dot]com.
The positions up for nomination include:
- President: The union head who oversees the Guild leadership team, committee chairs and general membership meetings, chairs and sets the agenda for the Executive Committee, serves as a spokesperson and representative to outside organizations, interacts regularly with management and works closely with the Guild’s full-time administrator to accomplish the Guild’s mission.
- Vice President of Mobilization and Communication: Responsible for ensuring strong communication with all members through social media, website, newsletters, emails and texts. This person also helps develop Guild mobilization activities and public messaging whenever the need arises.
- Vice President for Contract Administration and Enforcement: Looks for, receives and investigates contract compliance concerns, interacts with management and chairs the Grievance Committee to resolve contract disputes.
- Secretary: Custodian of the union’s non-financial records and policies, handles union correspondence and minutes for all Executive Committee and General Membership meetings.
- Treasurer: Reviews and approves financial transactions undertaken by the Guild administrator. Provides quarterly financial reports to the Executive Committee and helps prepare the budget with input from the Finance Committee.
- Steward: Stewards are the union representatives who represent Guild members in specific departments and shops. They share information with the rest of the Guild leadership team and with their own colleagues. They also occasionally address issues that arise in their own departments or shops. Some larger departments have more than one steward. Stewards also attend Grievance Committee meetings.
- Executive Committee Members: These are Guild members who do not hold one of the above positions, but serve on the Executive Committee to help set policy and direction for the organization. There are Executive Committee positions open among District Managers, Inside Circulation and the Sun papers at The Buffalo News, and positions open at all independent print shops the Guild represents.
All officers, stewards and Executive Committee committee members are expected to attend Executive Committee meetings once a month and to participate in the decision-making process during negotiations.
The Guild has other open positions that are currently unfilled or meet infrequently, and is open to creating new volunteer positions and subcommittees as needed. Currently, some of this work is being assumed by officers but we’re happy to delegate it to anyone interested.
Some open positions and subcommittees include:
- Frontier Reporter editor – Responsible for writing/assigning/assembling the quarterly newsletter for the Guild. Position may come with a stipend.
- Finance Committee – This committee is supposed to meet quarterly but has been meeting only once a year to review the budget.
- Mobilization Committee – Works with the VP of mobilization and communication to develop and execute job actions and mobilization campaigns, particularly during negotiations.
- Social chair – plans and organizes social events for the Guild, including the summer picnic and holiday party.