Nova Scotia

Talks break down in Chronicle Herald negotiations

The first round of negotiations since May between Chronicle Herald management and striking newsroom workers broke down on Friday and the union says a proposed non-union production hub was a sticking point.

Proposed non-union production hub recent sticking point, newsroom staff have been on strike since Jan. 23

The union representing striking Chronicle Herald workers says management is making unreasonable demands. (Blair Sanderson/CBC)

The latest round of negotiations between Chronicle Herald management and striking newsroom workers broke down Friday.

It's been more than nine months since the strike at Canada's oldest independently owned newspaper started. The last time both sides met was in May.

In a news release issued Saturday, management said the Halifax Typographical Union Local 30130 refused to negotiate on the terms that had been agreed by both parties. The union responded by saying terms already agreed upon don't need further negotiation.

12 unionized jobs at stake

Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said much of the discussion in recent weeks dealt with a production hub that management wants.

"[Management] simply makes demands on how they think that they're going to get this non-union production hub, which would see 12 people from our union lose their job," Bulmer said.

"We would then be losing jurisdiction, which is of course something unions highly regard. It's one of the protections we hold onto; it's part of our certification."

Bulmer said the union tabled another offer and she said the company refused it because it didn't match what they demanded from the union.

Requests for comment from Chronicle Herald management were not immediately returned Saturday.

Too many conditions

Bulmer said management put conditions on whether it would even submit a counter offer.

"They wanted us to stop normal strike activities, they wanted us to agree to media blackouts and that sort of thing," she said.

In the statement, management said the union refused proposals that offered wages up to $84,000 in a final year, seven weeks of vacation, sick coverage for up to six months, 68 weeks of severance from the current final round of layoffs, new seniority language, company paid pension, paid overtime at 37.5 hours and 11 company-paid stat holidays.

Seniority wouldn't determine raises

"The company is trying to put a spin on something that was in the expired collective agreement. They're not agreeing to give us seven weeks vacation. We agreed we would reduce seven weeks for people going forward," she said. "Statutory holidays are already there."

Management's latest offer, presented Oct. 18, would see lead editors making $83,440 at the highest pay step at 37.5 hours per week, Bulmer said. Reporters would top out at $72,150.

New hires would make 25 per cent less, ranging from just over $29,000 to about $54,000, she said. Wage increases would be based on management-determined performance, not seniority, she said. The proposed contract would be for eight years, she said.

'Unreasonable demands'

Bulmer said the company can either let the paper spiral down "as it's doing with less ads and poor quality content" or come back to the bargaining table. 

"The company's intention is to union bust. They will keep giving us contracts we can't sign, keep making unreasonable demands to even get to the table," she said. "There's no way anyone can agree to those terms — and that's exactly what they want."

Bulmer said the union is exploring its legal options while stepping up its secondary pickets, continuing to ask advertisers to stop advertising in the paper and asking subscribers to cancel subscriptions.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.