It took more than two years of persistence, but the unionized staff at the daily newspaper in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., have a new collective agreement with Postmedia that puts some money in their pockets.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon was delighted that members of Local 30746, the Sault Ste. Marie Typographical Union, “stood up to Postmedia, fought off their concession demands, and actually made some gains.”
Elaine Della-Mattia, president of the Local at The Sault Star that has 12 members working in editorial, advertising and reader sales and service, said their “goal at the outset was to not take any concessions and technically, we reached that goal.
“While we would have liked to have seen more money on the table because of the consecutive contracts we’ve taken a zero increase in, I believe we were able to come up with some creative out-of-the-box proposals that will ultimately put more money into our members’ pockets.”
The recently ratified five-year agreement, which is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2016, contains salary increases of 0.5 per cent in each of the last two years. That means the first one comes into effect this September.
A new health and benefit package with a different provider retains the 95-per-cent coverage employees had under the company’s Flexmedia plan and is far superior to the “common plan” proposed by Postmedia.
Della-Mattia said it has additional perks like an Employee Assistance Plan, life insurance to 75 instead of retirement, and coverage for experimental drugs for life-threatening diseases not normally covered.
“This plan will also be half the cost of the current plan,” she said.
O’Hanlon noted that take-home pay will increase $80 to $120 per month as a result of lower premiums under the new plan.
Other achievements in the new agreement include:
- move all members to the CWA-ITU Pension Plan (Canada) with employer contribution at 5.0 per cent;
- cell phones for editorial staff and advertising reps;
- retention of six weeks of vacation;
- simpler, up-to-date grievance language;
- increase in responsibility allowance for editorial desk fill-in and senior circulation clerk;
- inclusion of media strategist position;
- renewal of COLA letter.