Guild rejects Lee’s request for furloughs

Guild, however, will allow members to volunteer for furloughs if they choose

The Buffalo Newspaper Guild on Tuesday morning informed Lee Enterprises that it has decided to reject the company’s request that all Guild members making at least $20 an hour take two weeks of unpaid furloughs as part of a corporate cost-saving measure.

The Guild, however, informed the company that it will allow members to volunteer to be furloughed for two weeks. The Guild will be facilitating this process of seeking volunteers – if you are interested, please email Guild Administrator Kim Leiser at buffalonewsguild[at]gmail[dot]com and Guild President Jon Harris at jdharr04[at]gmail[dot]com. The Guild will then notify the company of who is interested.

The notification Tuesday morning to Lee came after the Guild’s Executive Committee met Monday evening and unanimously approved a motion to reject the furlough request but allow members to volunteer if they so choose.

For those considering volunteering, there are a couple of important factors to consider:

  • There is no pressure for you to volunteer. But we wanted to give Guild members an opportunity to volunteer, in case they are interested.
  • The company is looking for one furlough week before April 30 and another furlough week before Sept. 24.
  • In New York, there is an unpaid one-week waiting period to claim unemployment benefits. That means that if you’re furloughed two weeks, you’re only eligible to claim one week of unemployment benefits. The maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $504.
  • While you are furloughed, your benefits continue, including medical and dental insurance.

Any questions, reach out to Leiser and Harris directly.

Brief benefits update

Following the meeting the Guild had with Lee late last month over the benefits fiasco, the company on Monday provided us with a brief update on where things stand.

The company is still trying to obtain the pre-authorization information from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, which so far has not been responsive to Lee.

Lee is evaluating its next steps in its battle with Highmark.

That information is crucial so Lee can bring over pre-authorization information into the new system, which would solve a lot of headaches over members paying out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.

The company did say, however, it was able to correct the issues over diabetic medication and supplies/copays. That takes time to program in the system and should go live March 1.

Further, Lee was able to get the Walgreens 90-day prescription refill program up and running, effective March 1.

Stay tuned for more updates. If you’re still having issues with medical, dental and/or prescription benefits, let us know so we can get that addressed.

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