Guild secures enhanced financial package
Montreal Newspaper Guild | CWA Canada
Legal options exhausted, the Montreal
Newspaper Guild late last night conceded that it was
unable to stop the impending layoff of 45 employees
in The Gazette's circulation department. It did, however,
manage to secure improved financial packages for the
Mona Leroux, president of the MNG,
says the union reached a grievance settlement around
10:30 p.m. "It wasn't the ideal solution we wanted,
but it's something everyone can live with," she
Everyone being laid off will receive a severance package
that includes 4.5 weeks per year of service to a maximum
of 78 weeks; benefits for three months; and those 55
and older are eligible for the company's Retiree Benefits
Plan. A 24-month recall list has also been established.
The previous severance allowance, depending on date
hired, was either three weeks or 4.5 weeks, to a maximum
of 52 weeks.
Leroux says the late-night deal came amid signs from
the company that it was preparing to lock out the Reader
Sales and Service (RSS) workers, which it was legally
able to do at mid-week.
Had the employer locked out the workers,
the collective agreement would no longer be in place,
and therefore the union would have had no recourse
to arbitration to settle the grievance, she says. The MNG filed the grievance in
early May, saying the layoffs and transfer of work
to a non-union CanWest call centre in Winnipeg violated
contract language that gives the Guild jurisdiction
over the work.
It was a week of legal setbacks for the MNG:
An arbitrator on Monday
heard arguments on whether to issue a safeguard
order (injunction) to prevent the layoffs scheduled
for June 13. The application was subsequently withdrawn.
A Quebec Labour Board
commissioner on Thursday ruled against an application
to merge the RSS, Editorial and Advertising bargaining
units. (Had the commissioner accepted the application,
there was a possibility negotiations would be suspended
and working conditions frozen while it was being
The commissioner found the
MNG guilty of an unfair labour practice for insisting
that Editorial and Advertising be included in the
conciliation with RSS. “We’re guilty for trying to unite
and fight for our membership,” says Leroux.
The collective agreements for all three units expired
on June 1.
Gazette management was found guilty of an unfair labour
practice in connection with its public response to
a letter it received from an anonymous employee. The
commissioner is expected to rule next week on several
other charges of bad faith bargaining that involve
management attempting to negotiate directly with the
In the deal worked out Friday
night, management also agreed to follow contract
procedures for staffing eight new jobs — seven part-time and one full-time — that
are being created in RSS.
The company, says Leroux, had
begun "cherry picking" from
among existing staff rather than posting the positions
and allowing anyone to apply for them. Under rules
set out in the collective agreement, both competency
and seniority have to be taken into consideration.
All else being equal, says Leroux, seniority rules.
The MNG now has to return to
bargaining a new collective agreement for the RSS
unit which will have 23 members, including the eight
new positions. "Jurisdiction
will be the main issue," says the Local's president.
Bargaining to renew collective agreements for Editorial
and Advertising, both of which contain similar Guild
jurisdiction language, will also be resuming.