Union wins enhanced severance for Victoria Times Colonist mailers

2018.09.26 | CWA Canada Locals 30403, 30223

JIm Westhead, John Rufh, Deborah Service-Brewster, Chris Carolan From left: Local 30403 President Jim Westhead and Secretary-Treasurer John Rufh; administrative officer Deborah Service-Brewster; Local 30223 President Chris Carolan. (Gord Rufh photo)

About two dozen members of CWA Canada Local 30403 are out of work as of Monday, when the Victoria Times Colonist stops in-house printing of the newspaper.

The silver lining is enhanced severance, negotiated by the union for many of the mailers walking out the door.

“It was a very unselfish thing to do,” said local secretary-treasurer John Rufh.

“We could have shut the whole place down because we had language against contracting out.”

Members voted unanimously to accept the deal.

Rufh, one of those leaving the newspaper, said members felt it was better to take a payout so that the Times Colonist could continue to operate. It will now be printed at a Black Press facility in Ladysmith, B.C.

“We stood up and took one for the team.”

The 14 mailers share $1.8 million in severance. Two of the 14 have job guarantees and can choose to stay with the company, which would reduce the severance pool to $1.5 million.

Eleven part-time head feeders will receive regular severance of eight weeks.

Rufh, also secretary of the CWA Canada executive board, has a long track record of proposing money-saving ideas and finding efficiencies for Times Colonist owner Glacier Media.

The 42 remaining members of the local at Mail-O-Matic, a Vancouver mailing house, are expected to merge with Local 30223 (Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild) by the end of this year.

They would form a separate bargaining unit within the local, which currently has 105 members in editorial, advertising, circulation, business office, IT and maintenance at the Times Colonist.

The two B.C. Locals have had a close relationship over the years, bargaining together on joint councils and sharing the services of Deborah Service-Brewster, the administrative officer who leads negotiations.

Members at Mail-O-Matic, a mom-and-pop operation whose owners also belong to the union, will continue working under a three-year collective agreement ratified in the summer.

Chris Carolan, president of the larger CWA Canada local at the Times Colonist, says his members will vote on the pending merger this fall.

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