National Post newsroom staff in Toronto and Ottawa have narrowly lost their bid to unionize in order to fend off predations by Postmedia, the newspaper’s owner.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said that, after months of waiting for an Ontario Labour Relations Board ruling on challenged ballots, “we have lost the certification vote at the National Post by a razor-thin 32-31. We had a solid majority of cards signed, but lost votes to targeted buyouts and a management pressure campaign.”
O’Hanlon said the media union is “obviously disappointed,” but respects the result and will continue to support staff at the National Post.
The fact that a majority of staff at a conservative newspaper signed cards was “a huge success,” he said. It bodes well for next year, when the union would be allowed to start signing cards again. “We’ll be back,” he promised.
“Half the newsroom understands that the only way to protect wages, pensions and benefits — not to mention quality journalism — is to stand together, and it’s only matter of time before everyone realizes that,” O’Hanlon said.
“It has been inspiring to see the selfless dedication of the newsroom union committee as they fight for the common good and we will continue be here for them.”
“The disappointing part is that the vote result will cost each newsroom staffer tens of thousands of dollars over the years to come,’ O’Hanlon added.
“The company has slashed pensions and benefits and staff now have no way to fight back, while their unionized colleagues at other Postmedia papers are getting much more.”
What Postmedia is doing is unfair, unjust and immoral, said O’Hanlon.
“Most staff have not received a pay raise in a decade. To rub more salt in the wounds, CEO Paul Godfrey and other top executives got $1.4 million in raises. The company also pays tens of millions each year to its vulture fund lenders.”
Postmedia unilaterally ended its defined-benefit pension for non-union workers, cut its pension contribution from five to three per cent, and slashed health benefits.
If the company gets away with cutting pension contributions, an employee currently earning $78,000 a year would lose $80,000 over 20 years.