Darren Pittman, the former president of
the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), which dates to 1869,
says employees are in shock.
"There's not been any layoffs in our company before.
Never. We have never been faced with this situation. People
have been calling me all afternoon, crying," says Pittman.
There are 103 employees in the editorial bargaining unit.
The company says it wants to cut 24 jobs.
Peter Duffy, who became president on Jan. 9, says he has
called emergency meetings of the Local's executive on Friday
and the membership on Saturday to discuss their options.
Thanks to the union's collective agreement, says Pittman,
they might be able to mitigate the situation. Layoffs require
45 days notice. Within 15 days, the company has to offer
either buyouts or early retirement packages. What also might
be considered is job sharing and modified work weeks to achieve
the efficiencies the company seeks.
Duffy says that, within a week of his election, the company
approached the union for its input on how it might cut costs.
Management of Halifax Herald Ltd., which is owned by the
Dennis family, said it would be necessary to trim the newsroom
budget by $1.5 million this year because of the global economic
The executive, after holding a general membership meeting
several weeks ago, was collecting ideas on not only how to
save money, but how to make money, says Duffy. The company
did not wait for the union's proposals, however.
Pittman says the company announced this morning that it
had filled (out of union ranks) an assistant managing editor
position that had been posted in early January. With it
being one of four managerial jobs in the newsroom, that
meant the company increased management by 25 per cent in
the morning and decreased editorial staffing by 25 per
cent in the afternoon.
"If times are so tough, why are they paying an extra
$15,000 to $20,000 to a manager they don't need?" asks
Pittman. "We love our jobs and this company, but this
is going to be an ugly place to work for a while."