After first declaring they would not disclose to the media the details of their new agreements, it was good to see the Globe and Mail and its union climb down off that rickety position to provide at least the most important details of their new five-year contract.
The newly ratified deal provides for general pay increases of 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in the final three years after an initial two-year pay freeze. Although the union agreed that new employees would be enrolled in a defined contribution pension plan instead of the current defined benefit plan, it did manage to preserve the latter for existing employees and successfully fought off proposals for a longer work week. The union says it also managed to salvage a greater degree of autonomy for its workers on “outside activities,” though it didn’t provide details. The “outside activities” language is a big deal in a newsroom full of multitalented and highly sought-after journalists who do a fair bit of guest-hosting, commenting, freelancing and otherwise contributing to media not in direct competition with their employer.
Seventy-five per cent of the CEP local’s 450 members cast ballots; the vote was 289-52.
The newspaper’s contract is important for the benchmark it sets for the industry, especially given its headlong immersion in new media and distribution of its journalistic products through both traditional print and online platforms. My view: Under the current economic circumstances, the union did well.
The initial CNW Group announcement — that the leading national information company and its union would sit on details of its contract — was patently absurd. (Journalists at the paper would have stood for no such thing from any other company.) Good to see that more reasonable heads prevailed.