Halifax Typographical Union | CWA Canada
Six composing room workers at The
Chronicle Herald in Halifax have ratified a collective agreement that,
10 years from now, will usher them into early retirement.
"Our members would have been satisfied with a
status quo contract, but the company was determined to wring
major concessions out of just six employees," says Stephen
Forest, president of the Halifax Typographical Union. "In
the end, we managed to dull the company knife a bit, keep
the CWA-ITU Negotiated Pension Plan and even improve the
early retirement payments."
The 10-year deal will see all six members
reach the age and years of service required to exercise the
early retirement provisions of the collective agreement.
"It's always disappointing when we see wages slip back,
but our members are going to work fewer hours and some will
get to move from a five-day week to a four-day week," says
"All things considered, I think the members are relieved
we have a deal and are satisfied with what we accomplished." The
new contract was ratified with a 6-0 vote.
Several months before the contract expired, management sent
letters to the six members offering them buyouts and warning
that the company would be seeking major concessions.
Claiming turmoil in the newspaper industry and arguing the
members were overpaid for the work they were performing,
the employer sought a 25-per-cent wage cut over a five-year
contract. Even after agreeing to a 10-year term, the company
still sought wage concessions of 18 per cent, with one-per-cent
raises in the final three years. As well, the employer wanted
the union to give up its CWA-ITU Negotiated Pension Plan.
Forest says it became clear through numerous bargaining sessions
over five months, including work with a provincial conciliator, that
the union would have to make some concessions to reach a
"Working in our favour was a lifetime job guarantee
the union had negotiated several contracts earlier in return
for giving up jurisdiction in the composing room. At issue
was whether major wage rollbacks violate the job guarantee.
As well, there was an outstanding grievance over two former
members who took jobs posted outside the bargaining unit,
positions the union argued were still within the bargaining
unit. Combined, these two issues led the union to file
an unfair labour practice complaint against the company,
which loomed over these talks."
The president says "some creative thinking" on
the part of the union negotiating team, led by CWA Canada
staff representative David Esposti, yielded a proposal of
fewer working hours and a moderate reduction in the hourly
wage for some members. The immediate wage reduction will
be offset by increases totalling 13 per cent beginning in
the third year of the deal. As well, the pension plan remains
and there will be regular increases to the early retirement
monthly payout, tied to the wage increases every other year
over the 10-year deal.
The Halifax Typographical Union returns to the negotiating
table with the Herald next month when talks begin for a new
contract for pressroom members.