Solid rejection of contract offer,
plea to resume
sparks return to table in Montreal
Montreal Newspaper Guild | CWA Canada
The Gazette agreed today to return to the
bargaining table after employees on Sunday resoundingly rejected
the company's latest contract offer.
A resolution passed by members of the Montreal Newspaper
Guild (MNG) instructing their bargaining team to meet with
the employer and achieve an agreement was sent to the conciliator,
who won the company's approval to set up a meeting for this
David Wilson, the CWA Canada staff representative
who has been leading the negotiations, says of the membership: "They're
pumped!" He notes that "this is the furthest this
Local has ever gone in standing up for itself — and
they mean it."
The 181 employees in three bargaining
units — Advertising,
Editorial and Reader Sales & Service (RSS) — have
been without a contract since June 1, 2008. Yesterday afternoon,
Editorial voted 80.5 per cent and RSS 73 per cent, to reject
the company's offer. Earlier in the day, Advertising voted
65 per cent in favour of accepting the deal.
The lobby of the hotel where the
MNG meetings and votes took place was jammed with journalists
from every news outlet in the city, says Wilson. Labour
strife in the media had hit the headlines a day earlier,
when the Quebecor-owned Journal de
out 250 editorial and office employees.
Although both sides at The
Gazette have been in a legal strike/lockout position since early
last summer, and the union voted 86 per cent in favour
of a strike mandate in September, "We've told the employer and the public that
we have no intention of striking at this time," says
Wilson. "We hope to conclude a fair agreement at some
point in the near future."
Management at the CanWest-owned daily wants language removed
from the three collective agreements that gives the MNG jurisdiction
over work performed by its members. Without that language,
the company would be free to ship the employees' work to
other company facilities that are not unionized.
Guild jurisdiction has been a critical issue ever since
Gazette management laid off 45 RSS employees in June and
exported their work to a CanWest call centre in Winnipeg.
The MNG is also 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 Winnipeg. That grievance
is scheduled to go to arbitration next month.
The MNG maintains that contracts
for all three bargaining units "clearly prohibit the
assignment of such work either to employees of the same
employer not covered by our collective agreement or to
employees outside The Gazette."
Meanwhile, an online petition against CanWest's job outsourcing
that was set up in October, had garnered 7,152 signatures
as of today.