Gazette employees arm their negotiators
with 86% strike mandate
Newspaper Guild | CWA Canada
The team bargaining on behalf of
employees at The Gazette in Montreal heads back into
contract talks tomorrow armed with a powerful strike
The combined result of voting by members of three
bargaining units of the Montreal Newspaper Guild (MNG)
saw 86 per cent supporting a strike mandate for their
bargaining committee. Reader Sales and Service (RSS)
employees were 100 per cent in favour; Editorial was
98 per cent; and Advertising 59 per cent.
Mona Leroux, president of the MNG,
says the union executive is "very pleased" with
the results. “This sends a strong message to
the employer that we are united in our determination
to achieve a fair collective agreement.”
David Wilson, the CWA Canada
staff representative who is leading negotiations
for the Local, agrees. "Up
to this point, they (management) haven't taken a lot
of our issues seriously. We're hoping this mandate
will help move things along."
There have been only four days of bargaining since
early summer, when the two sides were in a legal position
to strike or lock out. But there's been little movement
on management's part, says Wilson.
The CanWest-owned Gazette is attempting to eliminate
union jurisdiction over work performed by its employees
and wants to merge job functions in all three bargaining
The Guild has made it clear it will not concede jurisdiction
or accept any takebacks from the employer.
"We feel confident we have the backing of the
membership," when contract talks resume tomorrow
and Wednesday for Editorial and RSS, and on Thursday
and Friday for Advertising, says Wilson. "It was
clear at (Sunday's) meeting that people are onside
and they're ready to take a stand."
The 181 Guild members have been without a contract
since June 1. The union is seeking a three-year deal
with annual wage increases of six per cent, a major
boost in vehicle allowance from $700 to $900 a month,
plus improvements in vacation time, vision care and
night shift differentials.
Gazette management laid off 45 RSS employees in June
and exported their work to a CanWest call centre in
Winnipeg. The union is grieving the transfer of other
work (layout of some pages and the Driving section,
electronic photo desk functions, business office duties)
to non-unionized CanWest facilities in Hamilton and
Contracts for all three bargaining
prohibit the assignment of such work either to employees
of the same employer not covered by our collective
agreement or to employees outside The
Management also wants to reclassify
reporters, photographers, artists and critics as "journalists" so
that they can be forced to provide multi-media content
for the online Gazette and CanWest's internet portals.
What it means, says Leroux, is that reporters and critics
would have to take photographs and video footage,
while photographers would have to write articles.