Buffalo News employees making their own news in dispute with owner

"They've just chosen to step on us."

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - Dozens of employees of the Buffalo News were on the other side of a press conference Thursday morning as members of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild stood in front of the News building on Washington Street to call out the paper's owner, Lee Enterprises, for its demands to outsource newsroom and clerical positions.

Guild President Sandra Tan detailed actions being launched as the guild is at a logjam in negotiations with Lee. The Newspaper Guild is the largest union within the News and represents workers in the newsroom, circulation and customer service.

"We were hopeful that this Iowa-based media chain would put its best foot forward in Western New York, said Tan. "Instead they've just chosen to step on us."

Tan says negotiations have broken down and the guild is raising red flags over Lee plans to outsource newsroom copy editor positions out of state and outsource customer service jobs to Mexico in addition to local accounting layoffs.

"How much will copy editors and designers in Wisconsin and Indiana care about what is happening here," said Tan.

Beginning Friday, readers to the paper edition of the News may notice the bylines on stories are gone. "Starting tomorrow, newsroom guild members are participating in an open-ended byline strike," said Tan. Reporters names and photos will be stripped from the articles.

In the shadows of The Buffalo News Building, the largest electronic billboard at the corner of Scott and Michigan Streets is lit up with a message from the guild to Lee. "The Buffalo News out of town owners are bad news for readers and workers," the sign reads every minute.

The guild, which represents about 150 employees at the News and Sun papers, is also circulating a petition against Lee.

Lee Enterprises declined comment for this story.