The 16-day-old strike by 1,000 unionized workers at the Winnipeg Free Press is over.

Members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union ratified a new contract Tuesday.

They will return to work on Wednesday and the paper is to publish on Thursday.

"We are glad it is done and we think we got a fair deal," union spokeswoman Mary Agnes Welch said Tuesday.

The contract was ratified by 67 per cent of newspaper carriers, 75 per cent of the pressmen and 91 per cent of the inside workers, including journalists.

The workers will get pay raises of two per cent per year for three years and 1.5 per cent in the fourth year of a four-year, nine-month contract, Welch said.

"This was probably as good as we could get without looking at a month-long strike that could cripple the Free Press," Welch said.

Publisher Bob Cox said the contract is fair for everyone and they are eager to get back to work.

"This was a 16-day strike; that's a very long time to be out of a marketplace and we did not like for one moment being out of the Winnipeg market for one day, let alone 16 days.

"We have a job ahead of us to try to win back our readers, to win back our advertisers, and to once again put out a good newspaper, but we're up to the task, I think."

Cox said it's not yet known how much money the paper lost during the strike, but "it would have been in the millions of dollars."

The best thing about the contract, Cox said, is that it provides stability for almost five years for the business.

The Free Press is owned by FP Canadian Newspapers, a limited partnership that is 51 per cent privately owned and 49 per cent publicly owned.