$1M settlement reached for fired CHCH workers
Settlement is a 'compromise,' union representing workers says
CHCH's parent company has reached a settlement with the union representing its workers who were laid off en masse in 2015.
Channel Zero announced the deal — which is for $1 million to be paid out over two years — on Monday afternoon.
"The total settlement amount of $1,000,001 paid out over two years and earmarked to pay wages, termination pay and severance pay owing to the former employees, is substantial, but at the same time will not subject CHCH to such a financial burden that it might jeopardize the station's operations," said Chris Fuoco, vice president of sales and marketing for Channel Zero, in a statement.
"The station will continue to serve its viewers and advertisers as it has for over 60 years."
They aren't getting as much severance as they would have under their collective agreement, but they are getting more than they would have gotten under the bankruptcy proceedings.- Unifor National Representative Liz Marzari
A union representative told CBC News that the deal is a compromise.
Workers who were not rehired by CHCH after they declared bankruptcy at the end of 2015 will receive statutory entitlements for severance and notice under the Canada Labour Code, as well as damages.
"They aren't getting as much severance as they would have under their collective agreement, but they are getting more than they would have gotten under the bankruptcy proceedings," said Unifor national representative Liz Marzari.
Marzari could not give an exact percentage or dollar value for how much less employees will be receiving.
CHCH's former employees did not get to vote on the deal.
"We considered the best interests of our members and accepted the settlement," Marzari said.
CHCH workers were left reeling after 129 full-time and 38 part-time personalities, reporters and other staff had their jobs terminated just before the holidays back in 2015.
A much smaller team has been running the newsroom since then. Several CHCH shows were cancelled and local news coverage cut back.
Employees downsized said they received no severance at the time. That included long-time reporters and on-air personalities, including Matt Hayes, Scot Urquhart, Donna Skelly and Mark Hebscher.
Workers who were rehired at CHCH won't get a payout as part of this settlement, the union says, but Unifor has been once again recognized as the in-house union for current workers at the company as part of the deal. Many saw the previous mass firings as a union busting move.
Marzari said that the previous collective bargaining agreement has also been restored, which she said "protects" workers at CHCH.
A collective bargaining agreement was also in place in 2015 when the station's workers were originally let go.