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Locked out Herald workers reach tentative agreement

“It's a horrible deal,” says union president

by Robert Devet

While a tentative agreement was in the works many Haligonians showed their support for the locked out Herald workers during a solidarity rally held this morning in front of the Herald Building on Joe Howe Avenue. Photo Tony Tracy, facebook
While a tentative agreement was in the works many Haligonians showed their support for the locked out Herald workers during a solidarity rally held this morning in front of the Herald Building on Joe Howe Avenue. Photo Tony Tracy, facebook

(KJIPUKTUK), HALIFAX -  Locked out ChronicleHerald pressroom workers will vote on a tentative deal reached between the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) and the owners of the newspaper.

“It's lousy deal, it is a horrible deal,” Martin O'Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the HTU's parent union, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“It is marginally better than what the employees rejected as the company's final offer two weeks ago (prior to the lockout)," says O'Hanlon. “There are a couple of minor improvements. But it is a hard thing for our members to swallow.” 

The tentative agreement eliminates the workers’ previously gained early retirement benefits entirely. It also includes a wage freeze.

“You plan everything for your option to retire early, then they break that promise and take it away,” O'Hanlon says.

Workers have been locked out since February 21st when the owners shrugged off an offer by the union to discuss further concessions.

And ever since the Herald owners were unwilling to make any concessions, while it continued to print the paper at its plant in Bedford using scab workers.

Workers received support both from their colleagues at the newsroom and from Herald readers.

Reporters withheld their bylines from the paper, and many readers responded to a union request to cancel their subscriptions for the duration of the lockout.

“We seemed to be getting a lot of support from people,” says Ingrid Bulmer, president of the HTU.

"When you have such a small bargaining unit, it really helps morale to see such support coming in from the readers, the community,” she said.

“Labour people have been great also. The (Halifax Dartmouth & District) Labour Council has helped out a lot. We will be leaning on them come November,” says Bulmer, referring to the newsroom contract negotiations that are scheduled for later this year.

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.

“I don't know what (Herald owners) will come up with, but all I can say is that it will be a different kind of negotiations,” says O'Hanlon, looking ahead to the newsroom bargaining sessions.

“Next time around, we will be ready. We will have 100 percent solidarity in the newsroom. If they come looking for concessions, they're going to be in for a huge battle,” says O'Hanlon.

O'Hanlon expects the vote on the tentative agreement to occur later today or tomorrow. 

See also: Advertisers boycott will be next for locked out Herald workers

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert


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