HALIFAX – The owners of The Chronicle Herald have struck a deal to expand what they have long described as a business that was struggling to stay alive.
Transcontinental Inc. has agreed to sell its publication assets across Atlantic Canada to SaltWire Network, a group that publishes The Chronicle Herald. Herald president Mark Lever is also president of Saltwire.
The announcement is in stark contrast to the concessions and regressive demands that the Herald has insisted upon from its striking newsroom staff over the past 16 months.
“We were told that the Herald’s demise was imminent if it didn’t immediately cut wages and other benefits to newsroom staff,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union.
“Apparently, that was a total fabrication. The company is not struggling but is instead planning to expand.”
The 54 reporters, photographers, editors and support staff have agreed to concessions in wages, changes to the pension plan and a shift in the work that the union performs.
“It was never enough for the Herald for reasons that have become clearer today,” Bulmer said. “They never did intend to bargain fairly with us and now it has become apparent that they were instead working on another deal. What has become clear is why the company continually stalled and ignored us when we requested bargaining meetings.”
Bulmer said Lever has already presided over two company bankruptcies and is biting off more than he can chew with the new investment.
“He has proven to be incapable of running one newspaper,” she said. “Now, he wants to expand his sphere of incompetence. It is simply mind-boggling.”
Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the national union that represents the HTU members, said the news confirms that the Herald has been duplicitous in bargaining with the union.
“The Herald based its bargaining strategy on pleading poverty, yet even when we agreed to major concessions, it wasn’t enough for them,” O’Hanlon said. “Now we know why. This has never been about money, it has been about power and union busting.”
For further information, please contact:
Ingrid Bulmer, HTU president, 902-210-3465
Frank Campbell, HTU vice-president 902-497-0057
Martin O’Hanlon, CWA Canada president, 613-867-5090