District Council Report

Midwest and Great Lakes Councils

Nov. 4-6

Erie, Pa.


Not all the news affecting media workers is negative.

Reports at the joint meeting of the Midwest District Council and Great Lakes Council had a few rays of sunshine, although the predominant news is of staff reductions and wage freezes and cuts.

At the Buffalo News, Guild representatives are happy over a new contract, which continues fully paid employee health care and an employee monitoring program that stresses customer improvement efforts, coaching and development rather than punitive measures.

One issue that mobilized Guild workers was an effort by the company to charge employees for parking. “Pretend” tickets were placed on all the cars, including managements’ cars, which brought the issue even more attention. The mobilizing committee played a big role, with their efforts funded by a CWA grant. At an ice cream social, those in attendance received CWA pins and coffee mugs which they proudly displayed.

The Buffalo News, which is not part of a large chain, is projected to make a $10 million profit this year.

Buffalo did see some 20 Guild employees and about 10 management leave in a buyout offer.

In Pittsburgh, at the Post-Gazette, the 175 members of the editorial only unit also are satisfied with their contract. And Guild members are touting a new digital paper, in the form of a PDF, that is distributed each afternoon to subscribers. Twelve people, all Guild members, have been hired for the digital edition.

Pittsburgh has an associate program for new hires who receive lower pay but full benefits in a position lasting up to two years.

The Guild and AFTRA in Pittsburgh put on a variety-type show that raises funds for a food bank and scholarships that is popular with the community. The Guild also is in a partnership with the newspaper in offering classes to the public taught by staff members with expertise in areas such as gardening, cooking, etc.


Joe Kenny

Second Vice President

United Media Guild, 36047