Back to business as usual at the Globe and Mail - sort of.
Four hundred plus workers in editorial, advertising and circulation at the national newspaper voted 86 per cent in favour of a new contract Monday after the strike deadline was extended last Tuesday.
Maybe now employees can have some confidence management won't be eavesdropping on their email. They'd been warned not to use company email to discuss union business during talks. Globe policy states they may be monitored. Talk about a chilling effect.
The five year deal signed by Globe employees (management was asking for six years) is sending a chill of another kind across the newspaper industry. The new contract calls for a pay freeze for the first two years and pay increases of two and 2.5 per cent thereafter.
A contract "that acknowledges the changing realities of the media industry," Phillip Crawley, publisher and chief executive of the Globe, said in a prepared statement after the vote. Other details of the collective agreement, save for some watering down of language around pension benefits, were not immediately available. But earlier published reports had Globe management asking for a host of concessions, including wage rollbacks for some employees of up to 50 per cent (sounds crazy, I know), a week's unpaid vacation and extended work hours without additional pay.
Brad Honywill, president of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local 87-M, echoed Crawley's assessment. "All of our members are sensitive to the fact that the media in general, and newspapers specifically, are going through difficult economic times, both because of the recession and because of changing habits in advertising and the way people receive their news." Are the days of printed paper numbered? Certainly the braintrust at the Globe has cast its sights southward, seen the havoc the current economic malaise has wreaked on the newspaper biz and recognized it's not immune. Hence, its big push online.
The paper, if all goes according to Hoyle, won't be recognizable a year from now.
Ambitious plans to shrink the size of the broadsheet, literally, cut back the number of pages and pack more content online is scheduled to be in full swing by then. Those nauseating automated Twitter feeds the paper's been too high on will be bringing more breaking news to readers. But will subscribers be ready to pay for content online? Crawley's betting on it.
The irony is that the paper's actually making money, twice as much as it was when online and print circulation revenues are combined, Crawley boasted in a recent article in Macleans. CEP had earlier in negotiations accused the Globe of using financial troubles at its parent, CTVglobemedia, to wring concessions. Desperate to save jobs, the union seems to have fallen in line.
In other news, CEP has just announced that the Star will be outsourcing 27 of 32 unionized employees in the classified department to a Buffalo-based firm. Just last month the Star laid off 38 long-serving advertising employees. Welcome to the new normal.