Huge majority ratifies new contract at Halifax newspaper


Newsroom employees at The Chronicle Herald in Halifax today voted 94.6 per cent in favour of ratifying a new contract. The four-year agreement includes annual wage increases of two per cent for the 84-member bargaining unit of the Halifax Typographical Union. “I think this agreement is fair and reasonable and, from today’s ratification vote, it is clear the membership agrees,” says HTU president Stephen Forest. The reporters, photographers, editors and other newsroom staff had been without a contract since Nov. 21. Days before the union negotiation team went into conciliation, the membership gave it a powerful 96-per-cent strike mandate. 2012.02.10| Strike vote spurs tentative deal in Halifax 2012.02.06| Hard bargaining in Halifax aided by strong strike mandate 2009.02.03| First-ever layoffs leave newsroom staff reeling 2008.01.14| Planned strike vote switches to ratification nod to 4-year deal The company dropped its demand to introduce a community weeklies reporter classification that would have paid salaries less than half of what reporters now earn, says Forest. While the company also wanted to establish a nine-step wage grid with significantly lower starting salaries for new reporters and photographers, the union agreed to go from a five-step to a six-step wage grid in this classification with a slightly lower starting salary than at present. Martin O’Hanlon, Director of CWA Canada, said the “company had been pushing hard for major concessions, but it backed down in the face of an overwhelming strike vote. This is what unions can accomplish with a strong, united membership.” For further information, contact HTU president Stephen Forest at 902-452-2390.

Strike vote spurs tentative deal in Halifax


A tentative agreement on a new contract for newsroom workers at The Chronicle Herald has been reached after the union bargaining team was armed with a strong strike mandate.

Negotiators for the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) are “happy with the agreement and will be recommending it to our members,” says president Stephen Forest. He expects a ratification vote to be held next Saturday, Feb. 18.

Following a strike vote on Saturday, Feb. 4, the two sides resumed negotiations Wednesday with the assistance of conciliator Jarrod Baboushkin, and emerged Thursday with the tentative deal.

Martin O’Hanlon, Director of CWA Canada, was delighted with the outcome. “The breakthrough came just days after members voted 96-per-cent in favour of strike action … showing once again the power of a strong, united membership.”

Going into conciliation, the company was seeking to greatly reduce the entry-level pay for reporters and photographers.

When nearly all of the bargaining unit’s 84 members (comprising reporters, photographers, editors, librarians and support staff) turned out for the strike vote, the message was unmistakeable, said Forest. “The membership is very clear that the company’s plan to turn back the clock on salaries is unacceptable.”


2012.02.06|  Hard bargaining in Halifax aided by strong strike mandate

2009.02.03|  First-ever layoffs leave newsroom staff reeling

2008.01.14|  Planned strike vote switches to ratification nod to 4-year deal

This week’s developments were a virtual replay of negotiations four years ago. The parties went into conciliation early in 2008 and emerged with a tentative agreement, which was ratified by 96 per cent of voters. That contract expired on Nov. 21, 2011.

Major cuts to the editorial department in 2009 were partially offset in the latter half of 2011, says Forest, with the hiring of four business reporters and a photographer. Local competition has prompted the company to nearly double the size of the daily newspaper’s business section.

The HTU also represents press operators and employees in the composing room at the Chronicle Herald.

Newspapers will remain in demand


Even with the push for new ways of delivering news, publishers of Toronto’s four dailies and three freebies are confident the demand for the newsprint copy won’t disappear, despite dire predictions of its impending death.

“I feel very optimistic about the long term for our news organizations … the best of times are ahead for the best of brands,” said Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank, during a panel discussion at the Four Seasons hotel on Thursday.

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Newsroom employees vote to support strike action

Unionized newsroom employees at The Chronicle Herald have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, if necessary, in their contract talks with company.

At a strike vote held Saturday, Feb. 4 more than 96 per cent delivered the mandate to their bargaining committee.

Among the key issues, the union is opposing the company’s attempts to pay starting reporters and photographers thousands less than it currently does.

“The membership is very clear that the company’s plan to turn back the clock on salaries is unacceptable,” says union president Stephen Forest. “We care about the salaries of future employees because of the long-term implications it has all for employees.”

This strong show of support comes as the union is about to begin conciliation talks with the newspaper. Those talks begin Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Nearly 92 per cent of the Halifax Typographical Union’s 84 members cast a ballot.

The HTU represents reporters, photographers, editors, and other newsroom staff.  Union members have been without a contract since November 21, 2011.

The Halifax Typographical Union is affiliated with CWA / SCA Canada, the country’s oldest media union and represents journalists in newspapers, television and radio across Canada.

For further information, contact:

Stephen Forest

President, Halifax Typographical Union

(902) 452-2390 (c)