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.”
2009.02.03| First-ever layoffs leave newsroom staff reeling
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.