The Times Colonist, The Guild, Mailer’s Union, and UNIFOR are pleased to announce that Walmsley will be the new service provider for our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) effective July 1, 2014. The EFAP is a confidential, professional short term counselling and assessment service. Employees, spouses, and dependant children are able to access the service at no charge to them. The service provides assistance with personal and/or family issues such as but not limited to: depression, addictions, relationships, grief and loss, and parenting issues. If the person requires longer term counselling the counsellor will refer he/she to an appropriate provider in the community.
Talks between the company that publishes the Vancouver Sun and Province and the union that represents their workers broke down after two days of negotiations earlier this month over contracting out of the printing of both newspapers.
That increases the likelihood of a labour dispute in a year’s time over Pacific Newspaper Group’s plan to have outside companies handle the printing.
“They can lock us out or we can go on strike,” said Unifor Local 2000 vice-president Gary Engler. “Of course, we have the right to picket and all of those sorts of things.”
Postmedia Network recently announced it will sell the Surrey property where its printing plant is located and either contract out the printing or build a new plant that would require fewer workers. The company imposed a Nov. 18 deadline for an agreement to be reached on staffing levels for a new plant, but a Unifor release called the company’s demands “too extreme” for the union to accept.
“Among other conditions, the company insists on the right to choose from among our current members as to who would be able to work at a new plant,” it stated. “It was estimated that only about one-quarter of our current Kennedy Heights members would be asked to work at the new facility.”
The union also claims the company offered far less severance pay for displaced press operators than it has offered its editorial and business staff under a Voluntary Staff Reduction Plan.
The collective agreement between Unifor and Postmedia’s subsidiary Pacific Newspaper Group expires on Nov. 30, 2014. Engler said the company suggested more talks in January, but the Unifor release called agreement “highly unlikely.” PNG announced it has already contracted with Transcontinental Printing to handle printing in the event that agreement cannot be reached with Unifor on staffing levels for a new plant.
Engler said the recent talks revealed that only the Sun would be printed at Transcontinental’s plant on Annacis Island, however, with another printing company handling the Province. The current collective agreement prevents contracting out, and its provisions would be extended under the B.C. Labour Code in the event of a strike or lockout.
“We know where the printing is going,” noted Engler. “Transcontinental is unionized as well. Where the Province is going is a non-union plant.”
Meanwhile, another large U.S. hedge fund has acquired a major ownership interest in Postmedia. Silver Point Capital recently bought a 19 per cent stake in the company, which makes it the second largest owner of Postmedia behind New York-based GoldenTree Asset Management, which owns about 35 per cent.
Canada’s largest chain of dailies, which was founded in the 19 century by the Southam family, was bought out of the bankruptcy of Canwest Global Communications in 2010 by a group of its creditors, with financial backing from several U.S. hedge funds.
Vancouver journalist Marc Edge is a frequent contributor to The Tyee.
– See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/11/26/Postmedia-Union-Talks/#sthash.4D7Zafpj.dpuf
The Kennedy Heights printing plant will be put up for sale immediately and operations there will cease sometime in 2015, the union was told today by Paul Godfrey, CEO of Postmedia.
The company presented two possible options going forward. One is contracting out the work currently done at Kennedy Heights. The company has “entered into a contract with Transcontinental” to print papers effective early 2015, Godfrey told Local 2000 representatives.
The other option is the union and company reaching an agreement to open a new plant that would cost substantially less to operate than Kennedy Heights. Godfrey explained that the contract between Postmedia and Transcontinental will not go into effect if the company and union reach a deal before Nov. 18, 2013 that reduces costs at a new plant by 70-75 percent.
Our current contract language says “there will be no involuntary loss of employment of any regular employee during the life of the contract as a result of” contracting out.
Union officers will be consulting with our legal counsel and meeting with members to discuss our next steps.
The company said it was hoping to have further discussions soon.
Postmedia also announced today that it is selling the Calgary Herald building and land and will be contracting out printing beginning in November.
Negotiations that spanned 18 months and two owners have finally produced new contracts for two CWA Canada Locals that represent workers at the Victoria Times Colonist.
The four-year agreement, which will expire Jan. 2, 2015, includes wage boosts of 1.0 per cent in 2013 and 1.5 per cent in 2014, plus a $250 signing bonus in lieu of retroactive increases.
“We lost nothing,” says a jubilant Chris Carolan, president of the Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (VVING).
“While the gains are modest,” says CWA Canada Director Martin O’Hanlon, “the fact that they avoided concessions in the current newspaper climate is very significant.”
The previous contract, which expired at the start of 2011, had been negotiated when the daily newspaper was owned by Canwest. The chain’s newspapers were acquired by Postmedia Network when Canwest became insolvent. Negotiations with Postmedia began in May 2011, but reached an impasse last September when the employer attempted to reintroduce significant items the joint bargaining council believed had been removed.
Shortly thereafter, Postmedia sold the Colonist to Glacier Media, which publishes more than 60 community newspapers, primarily in Western Canada.
Carolan says it became obvious after a meeting earlier this year between the three unions and Orest Smysnuik, the company’s chief financial officer, that Glacier Media was interested in reaching a fair agreement that both sides could live with.
When bargaining resumed, “we accomplished more in three days than we did in the previous 18 months, which tells us our new employer is eager to grow the company at the local level, rather than offshore,” says Carolan.
Members of VVING, which represents 153 employees in editorial, advertising, circulation, maintenance, information technology and business departments, voted 96 per cent in favour of ratifying the tentative agreement. Members of British Columbia Local 30403, which represents 35 workers in the mailroom, voted 92 per cent in favour. Members of CEP, which represents workers in composing and the pressroom, also voted with large majorities to accept the deal.
Carolan and O’Hanlon had expressed their “cautious optimism” in a news release welcoming the ownership change a year ago, saying they were “heartened by statements Glacier has made in the past about quality journalism.” Glacier had lamented in an annual report that “the demise of many North American newspaper and media companies has in part been self-inflicted. The Internet has been a factor, but the reduction of content and quality through continual cost cutting has played a significant role.”
Paul Godfrey, CEO of Postmedia, which has slashed jobs and sacrificed quality at all of its metro dailies in order to service a huge debt load, told the Globe and Mail the Victoria paper’s union rules were also a motivator for the sale. (Their contract prevents outsourcing services such as pagination.) He claimed that employees hadn’t bought into the company’s “Digital First philosophy.”
Carolan countered at the time that his members simply objected to the centralization of pagination in Hamilton and ad production in the Phillippines: “We bought into Digital First, we just didn’t buy into shipping our jobs to Manila, Dominican Republic, Hamilton, Calgary, etc.”
He observes now that “the atmosphere for the most part at the negotiating table with Glacier was a pleasant surprise compared to the earlier negotiations when Postmedia was our owner.
“We also understand that our industry is changing at a rapid pace and we believe we can work with the company within the parameters of our newly signed four-year collective agreement to address any concerns that may occur.”
The Victoria Joint Council of Newspaper Unions
Here are the voting results from the Victoria Joint Council of Newspaper Unions:
TNG-CWA Guild 96% in favour of tentative agreement.
TNG-CWA Mailers 92% in favour of tentative agreement.
CEP Compositors 86% in favour of tentative agreement.
CEP Pressmen 73% in favour of tentative agreement.
Members of Local 2000 working at the Nanaimo Daily News voted Wednesday in favour of a strike, if necessary, after talks with the employer broke down last week. Pressmen voted 100% in favour of strike action, while members in Composing, Sales, Pre-Press and Editorial covered under one agreement voted 85% in favour, in an effort to secure a new agreement with their employer.
CEP Local 525G, which represents the mailroom staff at the Daily News, had already taken a vote and the members delivered a 100% strike mandate to their committee.