Members of the Montreal Newspaper Guild (MNG) are steeling themselves to withstand any intimidation Postmedia might be planning as bargaining at The Gazette resumes.
The company is seeking major concessions on pension, benefits, vacation and wages, but CWA Canada Local 30111 president Ron Carroll said he is “cautiously optimistic we can arrive at a fair and equitable contract.”
In order to win those concessions in Ottawa, Postmedia threatened to lock out staff at The Citizen and Sun if they rejected an offer in a vote on Sept. 12.
Debbie Cole, president of the 63-member Ottawa Newspaper Guild (CWA Canada Local 30205), said “Postmedia’s campaign of fear was successful.”
Members voted 32-24 in favour of the deal, which will cost staff thousands of dollars in lost benefits.
Carroll said the MNG has been presented “with much of the same intolerable concessions and then some, but our members are united and are resolute in not bowing to the greedy hedge-fund masters that control Postmedia.”
The MNG was prepared to declare a strike if their Ottawa colleagues had been locked out so that both Locals would have the power of two to fight Postmedia’s demands rather than stand alone against their onslaught.
At a meeting the day after the Ottawa vote, Carroll said some of his 58 members expressed concern about what had happened, but were “determined to stay firm.”
With three days of talks scheduled to start on Oct. 9, he said the Local is preparing for a strike or lockout.
“I’ve told management in Montreal that they can’t expect us to roll over and play dead,” said Carroll.
Members had given the bargaining team a 98-per-cent strike mandate in March and reaffirmed that commitment in July.
Earlier this year, the union had put some non-monetary proposals to the employer, “but they were rejected out of hand.”
Carroll said he is not blaming management at The Gazette for the difficult labour relations because “Postmedia and its hedge-fund masters are calling the shots.”
“The hedge fund is not interested in running a company. They just want to squeeze as much money out of us as possible.”
Members of the MNG work in advertising, editorial, information services, reader sales-services and in the business office at the newspaper.