May 24, 2016
By WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Buffalo, NY – Just 10 months after its Membership approved a new and retroactive contract, the Buffalo Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 31026 – which represents a shade more than 200 Workers at The Buffalo News – “is back at it,” according to Guild President Henry Davis, as new talks kicked off earlier this month.
“We’re back at it ten months later,” Davis (pictured below on the right) told WNYLaborToday.com late last week during a telephone interview. “The issues are ‘similar’ to what ‘many other’ newspapers are facing, including cutbacks, downsizing of the newspaper, health care premiums, severance and newsroom trial periods.”
Last time around, it took more than a year of negotiations to reach an agreement on a retroactive deal that ran from 2014 to the end of this year (2016). Over that course of time, there were a total of 37 proposals made by The News and only a handful from the Guild, Union Representatives told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper at the time.
This time around, according to the Guild’s web site (www.buffaloguild.org), The News has issued only four bargaining proposals since talks started, but – according to the Guild – they are very big, difficult proposals that target severance pay, health insurance, the trial period in the newsroom and the existence of the Classified Department.
“We started with two sessions – that should be the start of a ‘pretty long’ process,” Davis said. The next bargaining session has been scheduled for June 7th, Guild Officials said.
“It ‘takes time’ and ‘it’s complicated,’” Davis said. “Negotiations are ‘going to be tough’ and it will be ‘challenging’ to see what happens. Right now, we’re really into the information-gathering phase, ‘learning more’ about their proposals and beginning to ‘deal with what we’re faced with.’”
“But,” he added, “on the ‘optimistic side’ – we have a ‘history’ of coming to agreement (with The News). And our Membership (has stated) it ‘wanted to do something stronger’ (in sending a message to The News during these latest negotiations). Our Members designed the t-shirts we’ve been wearing at work and it’s a ‘great sign’ of solid solidarity. It’s a good start.”