Check out the Frontier Reporter – winter edition! It’s been a crazy few months. Catch up here.
This winter edition of the Frontier Reporter offers a fresh perspective from new Guild President Jon Harris, reflections on how far we’ve come, by past president Sandy Tan, and a chance to get caught up on all the big news you may have missed since the fall edition. Find out who has joined the Guild and who has left (too many). We also pay tribute to three retiring veteran reporters.
Click here to download the winter edition.
Protected: Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: Feb. 13, 2023
Protected: Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: Jan. 9, 2023
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.
Investigative Post: ‘It might as well have been Alden’ who bought The Buffalo News
Investigative Post, the Buffalo-based nonprofit news outlet, has taken notice of the recent newsroom cuts imposed by owner Lee Enterprises on The Buffalo News.
In a item published Sunday under the headline “The Buffalo News is hemorrhaging journalists,” former News reporter and Buffalo Newspaper Guild member Jim Heaney points out how Lee “is slashing staff and taking other steps to squeeze money out of the operation.”
Heaney, who wrote that Lee is following the playbook of vulture capitalist firm and newspaper owner Alden Global Capital, spoke with Guild President Jon Harris for the piece.
“We know what Lee Enterprises is getting out of The Buffalo News,” Harris told Investigative Post. “We’re wondering what Buffalo is getting out of Lee Enterprises.”
For more information about the newsroom cuts, check out the Guild’s Twitter feed.
Consolidation efforts by Lee Enterprises lead to unanticipated loss of pay and benefits for Buffalo News employees
Lee Enterprises hurriedly pushed out an error-riddled open enrollment process for employee benefits in December, despite Guild objections, in an effort to consolidate benefit services in Iowa and save money. The result? Buffalo Newspaper Guild members and other Buffalo News employees have now spent weeks suffering the financial and health consequences of Lee’s mistakes in the New Year.
All employees have been significantly shorted pay in their paychecks, and some Guild members have suffered serious consequences — including the inability to make doctor’s appointments and receive necessary medication — as a result of Lee’s actions.
This outcome was predictable given that Lee Enterprises waited until the last minute to tell Buffalo News workers that it was simultaneously changing their health care provider, 401(K) management firm, HSA and FSA management firms and payroll system.
This has caused added anxiety for a news staff and other workers who in the last eight months had to cope with a mass shooting that killed 10 people, a blizzard that killed 47 people, a fatal fire that killed 5 children and a Buffalo Bills player nearly dying during a nationally televised NFL game.
Members at Gallagher Printing, Hodgins Printing ratify new contracts that include raises, other improvements
Higher minimum starting pay and minimum annual raises were among the improved contract terms bargained in recently approved deals for Guild-represented workers at Gallagher Printing and Hodgins Printing, two of the print shops whose employees are represented by the Buffalo Newspaper Guild.
The deals were ratified late in 2022 following negotiations by former President Sandy Tan and Guild administrative officer Kim Leiser.
Protected: Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: Dec. 12, 2022
Buffalo helps striking Guild members in Pittsburgh, Fort Worth
The Buffalo Newspaper Guild has contributed financially in recent months to help striking guild members in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth.
Members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh went on strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in October and remain on strike.
In early November, our Executive Committee approved a $5,000 donation to the CWA strike fund to benefit members of the Pittsburgh guild. (more…)
Protected: Executive Committee Meeting Minutes: Nov. 7, 2022