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National Post newsroom employees apply to unionize with Unifor

'COVID has sped up the unravelling of media's business model'


October 1, 2020
By Anita Balakrishnan/The Canadian Press

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TORONTO — Employees in the National Post newsroom are working to unionize, Unifor said Wednesday.

Unifor filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to represent staff at the newspaper, according to Unifor spokesman Stuart Laidlaw.

“The company has just received the application and we are reviewing it,” said Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia vice-president communications.

Unifor organizer Chris MacDonald said a majority of the workers must vote to join the union within the next week for it to be successful. There will be a notice put up in the workplace to let workers know that Unifor filed the number of membership cards needed to trigger a vote to create a union in the workplace, MacDonald said.

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“They have come to us seeking an opportunity to organize. It’s not a huge number of workers, so most will be involved in the process, I would imagine,” MacDonald said.

“This is about their working conditions, their relationship with their employer and compensation. Those are the reasons people seek out a union … they would like someone to bargain on behalf of their interests, collectively.”

Costs cut through layoffs

The Toronto-based newspaper’s parent company, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., said at the end of May it would lay off about 40 employees after a number of its unions would not approve a temporary salary reduction.

At that time, the media conglomerate already had 43 collective agreements, including with CWA Canada and Unifor, across the company.

Postmedia’s latest financial results in July showed quarterly sales down nearly 30 per cent from the year prior, even as the company cut costs through additional layoffs, closing 15 of its 125 publications and slashing salaries.

Unifor, which says it is Canada’s largest media union with 11,900 members in the sector, has been pushing for more government support for Canadian journalism.

“COVID has sped up the unravelling of media’s business model, thanks to Google and Facebook sucking ad dollars out of Canada,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in August.

“Just in television local news, we’ve seen a 23 per cent decline in editorial and operations jobs since 2014. The numbers in print journalism are worse, more like 44 per cent.”