Union asks readers, advertisers to demand
more local employment from their newspaper
Newspaper Guild | CWA Canada
The North Bay Nugget is reducing its workforce
as part of a Quebecor-Sun Media consolidation of non-union
shops in eastern and southern Ontario. Six ad designers and
members of the North Bay Newspaper Guild are being laid off
effective May 28.
Verbal notice has also been given that
it won’t be long before news pages are paginated at
the Sudbury Star, with at least one full-time senior employee
to be terminated and another one will likely bump a junior
reporter out of a position.
”We’re not happy with the reductions,
we don’t believe they make good long-term business
sense and they don’t reflect the support Nugget readers
and advertisers continue to give this newspaper,” said
Guild president Dave Dale. ”We hope our readers and
advertisers take the time to tell our boss and his corporate
bosses they expect local employment from their local newspaper.”
These job losses are not a result of red ink. As far as
the Guild can tell, the Nugget has made sizable profits every
year despite the recession and industry challenges, Dale
By June, another eight of the 41 full-time union positions
at The Nugget will have evaporated, which means the North
Bay area will lose substantial return on its investment in
the local newspaper, Dale said.
In late 2008, six other people were axed, including two
full-time photographers with more than 50 years of combined
experience, one news department manager position was lost,
one advertising manager position disappeared, a long-time
maintenance person was given the heave-ho within a year of
retirement and a long-time ad layout co-ordinator was severed.
A year earlier, reader sales and service diminished by closing
the office during half the normal business day, with good
part-time people let go before that as the company set up
an ad sales call centre near Ottawa.
On the upside, The Nugget and the area has benefited from
work being moved here from other papers in the Sun Media
chain. The Sudbury Star has been printed in North Bay for
a couple of years, and it now prints The
Orillia Packet and Times and Midland
Two of the six ad designers being laid off came to North
Bay recently to cover increased workload after a Sudbury
Star desktop department was closed, ending three jobs there.
But the Guild expects more layoffs to come. Bargaining began
for a new contract March 30 to replace the agreement that
ended Dec. 31, 2009. Many Sun Media concessions were sought
on the first day, including reductions in how much notice
is given for layoffs caused by reorganization.
It was announced during the second morning that the desktop
department and its six positions was being closed due to
reorganization, with talks halting shortly after.
Negotiations are set to resume in mid-May after a presentation
regarding a new benefits carrier explains how much more benefits
will cost, and how many fewer benefits are offered, as well
as the added complications of receiving them.
During an emergency Guild meeting
at the 406 Wing Squadron Hall April 11, an ad salesperson
with the Kingston Whig-Standard gave an overview of what
it’s like to co-ordinate ads
with Sun Media’s non-union design shop in Barrie. Nugget
sales people are now preparing for the transition and expected
One of the North Bay Newspaper Guild’s
chief proposals for a new agreement is returning mailing
room staff wages to a level that is at least two dollars
an hour more than minimum wage, as it was before recent
increases in the cost of living and hikes in minimum wage.
Non-monetary items at the table include
a company demand that reporters give up all “moral right” to
the stories, photos and videos they produce, which could
mean materials can be altered and changed at any time after
it's initially published, even if it changes the context
and opinion expressed by the author.
The company also wants the freedom to demand all the documentation
it desires, including sensitive and unrelated medical records,
even for one sick day.
Other items tossed on the table by the employer include
a weeklong reduction in the holiday grid for the most senior
and dedicated workers, deletion of a floating vacation day
in trade for a statutory Family Day already given, and half
as many guaranteed hours when scheduled for a stat holiday.
In response to the local job losses, more than 75 surviving
North Bay Newspaper Guild members want the public to know
they care about The Nugget and its ability to continue producing
a great local product.
”We don’t want our subscribers to stop paying
for this product. We don’t want our advertisers to
stop using this vehicle to do business. And we don’t
want to go on strike or get locked out,” Dale said. ”But
we can’t remain silent as good paying jobs are quietly
shipped out of the very city that makes this newspaper profitable.”