Buffalo Newspaper Guild members overwhelmingly ratified the tentative agreement that was reached with The Buffalo News and its owner Lee Enterprises, in a 75-1 vote tallied Friday, Aug. 6. The three-year deal offers raises and improves and maintains many union benefits that keep the local daily newspaper strong.
“This community spoke up about the importance of protecting local journalism and the people who make that work possible at The Buffalo News,” said Guild President Sandra Tan. “Their voices played a vital role in reaching a new agreement. We are so grateful for their support.”
The Guild has changed its billboard message at Michigan and Scott streets to reflect that.
Among the many improvements to the contract are union-wide raises, plus additional raises for some of the Guild’s lowest paid employees. The company gave union journalists more say over their online work and agreed to clearly and transparently label all online sponsored content and advertising that could be mistaken for real journalism.
The deal also provides more paid days off, a work from home policy, and a greater commitment to diversity hiring and anti-discrimination policies.
The Guild was unable to prevent the company from winning the right to outsource customer service, accounting or page design work, but employees who could see the eventual outsourcing of their work would be entitled to enhanced severance pay and health benefits.
The company agreed to keep outsourced work in the United States and is restricted from outsourcing page design work before 2023. Lee Enterprises would offer remote employment opportunities to page designers, as available, and agreed to make every effort to accommodate Buffalo News deadlines and design needs.
Finally, the company offered pension enhancements and reasonable 401(k) contributions to members in exchange for the right to freeze the Guild pension plan.
“At a time when newspaper journalism seems under attack from all sides,” Tan said, “we have an agreement that allows The Buffalo News to maintain its journalistic mission and its obligations to the employees who give the paper its value.”