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“You can't just come to the table and say take it or leave it”

Chronicle Herald aiming for lock out of pressroom staff, union says

by Robert Devet

Late last year Chronicle Herald newsroom staff faced layoffs and staff reductions. Now the Herald owners are refusing to negotiate with pressroom staff. Photo Robert Devet
Late last year Chronicle Herald newsroom staff faced layoffs and staff reductions. Now the Herald owners are refusing to negotiate with pressroom staff. Photo Robert Devet

(KJIPUKTUK), HALIFAX – As we reported earlier, Chronicle Herald pressroom workers may well find themselves locked out by their employer sometime after February 21st.

Details now emerging from the negotiations suggest that Herald owners are not interested in striking a deal with the 13 press operators and industrial mechanics.

“From the get go the employer has not changed its position whatsoever,” David Esposti, staff representative with CWA/SCA Canada, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“We believe the employer is pushing us into a situation where he will lock us out. It's that simple,” says Esposti.

The union asked for a four-year agreement, with a lump sum payment in year one, a 1 percent increase in the second year, and 1.5 percent in the third and fourth years.

And even these modest demands are still negotiable, Esposti suggests.

But Herald owners countered with four years of wage freezes, and the elimination of job security language, early retirement provisions and existing scheduling arrangements, he says.

“The employer has not moved one iota on anything and has not shown any willingness to look at any of our proposals,” Esposti says. “(The owner) has drawn a line in the sand and is looking for a fight.”

Ingrid Bulmer, president of Local 30130, the Halifax Typographical Union, is taken aback by the employer's rigid stance.

“It's not a pleasant thing to go on strike, and we're not asking for much. For the pressroom to go on strike, it just doesn't make a lot of sense,” she says.

“The workers are frustrated, they are upset that the company has basically not done any negotiating,” she tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “You can't just come to the table and say take it or leave it, that's not how you negotiate.”

In November of last year Herald management announced the layoff of as many as 20 newsroom workers.

After difficult negotiations and through other concessions and personal sacrifices by many members of the newsroom the union was able to soften the blow.

Two unionized workers were laid off, and 13 workers walked away from the newsroom with either early retirement or buy-out packages.

Esposti recognizes that the Chronicle Herald is facing decreasing readership. But the Herald is hardly unique, yet other newspapers are adapting while continuing to bargain in good faith, he says.

One more mediation meeting is scheduled for the 18th of February. Meanwhile the clock is ticking towards a potential lockout on the 21st of February.

“We're going to resist this as best as we can,” says Esposti. “We're left with no choice.”

See also:

Chronicle Herald owners target pressroom workers :

Newsroom staff rally against Chronicle Herald job cuts

Chronicle Herald union offers major concessions to save newsroom staff

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 


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