Unionized editorial employees at the Chronicle Herald will file a 48-hour strike notice after contract talks ended early on Wednesday. 

In a statement, the Halifax Typographical Union said its concessions — including a five per cent wage cut and a severance cap — were "rejected outright" by Herald management.

"We put some serious concessions on the table hoping this was enough to entice the employer to actually start collective bargaining," said Dave Wilson with the union CWA Canada, speaking on behalf of the typographical union. 

In a statement released Wednesday, the Chronicle Herald said it promised the union it will not lock out employees. However, it said employees who chose to continue working must do so under a series of conditions.

Those conditions are identical to the contract being offered by the paper. 

Dead-end talks

"The company's last offer will serve as the basis of employment until a final and binding contract can be reached," the Herald's statement said. 

Wilson said the union believes a lockout is imminent regardless of the proposed new terms of employment. 

"They put a position on the table back in October and it has changed not one word since then. In fact, there's been no negotiation. No back and forth from the employer. Not typical negotiations," he said.

"The position taken by the employer today is, 'We're simply going to impose our will on you.'" 

Members of the typographical union voted to strike on Jan. 16.

Concessions

The union said the rejected concessions include:

  • an immediate five per cent wage cut across the board
  • no wage increases for the next two years
  • a 25 per cent reduction in starting salaries for new reporters and photographers
  • a severance cap
  • reducing the mileage rate by 17 per cent
  • reducing vacation allotment

In the Herald's statement, the company said continued talks depend on whether union members strikes.

Nancy Cook, vice president of administration for the paper, said in the statement the new working conditions "will avoid a work stoppage while we continue to negotiate a final collective agreement."

Cook could not be reached for an interview. 

Down to business

In its release, the union asked Herald readers for their support.

"If an agreement cannot be reached, we ask readers and advertisers to suspend their subscriptions and advertisements until a deal has been reached."

Mark Lever, the Herald's president, sent out a mass letter to its advertising clients on Wednesday warning them of similar requests.

"There are occasions when a union may attempt to undermine businesses by asking you to avoid advertising with us," Lever wrote.

"This tactic is used by labour unions to attempt to pressure business into conceding bargaining demands. Please let me know directly if the union attempts to threaten your business in these ways."

Lever said the company doesn't want to see "colleagues on a picket line," but that they are prepared to uphold the paper's standards to ensure advertising isn't devalued in the event of a strike.

The union said it will soon be launching a free website called Local Xpress featuring three to five news stories a day.