Seven striking radio employees from Saint John announced today they are expanding their fight for a fair deal with their employer, Halifax-based Maritime Broadcasting System. The seven are asking listeners and advertisers of the Moncton MBS Radio stations, K94.5, 103.9 Max FM and Choix 99, to boycott the stations until they reach a deal with the company.
The seven walked off the job on June 25th, 2012 after more than eight months of trying to negotiate their first collective agreement. The unionized employees, members of The Canadian Media Guild, initiated a successful boycott of the Saint John MBS stations, K-100, 98.9 Big John FM and 93 CFBC, but feel the company is utilizing its resources from the other 21 stations in the chain to subsidize its fight to bust the union.
“MBS Radio seems determined to dig in its heels and hope we go away”, says Gary Stackhouse, president of the group, which has become known in labour circles nationwide as The Saint John 7. “And they seem to be willing to sacrifice revenues in Saint John, at least in the short-term, to do it. What they need to realize is that we are not going away.”
The group was received well in Halifax last week as they expanded the boycott to the company’s hometown. The Canadian Media Guild also served notice last week to bargain on behalf of the Halifax MBS Newsroon employees. Now they are asking Moncton businesses to cease advertising on the Maritime MBS stations until a deal is reached, and for listeners to stop tuning in. They have enlisted the help of The New Brunswick Federation of Labour and several local labour leaders who support the boycott and the Saint John 7’s fight for a fair deal.
Wages are the biggest stumbling block in negotiations. The latest company offer has wage scales from $10.58 to $12.98 per hour to start. The union is asking for wages to start between $12.00 and $17.21 per hour in 2013. The workers have not received any across-the-board wage increases in over a dozen years, and say wages for some positions have actually fallen dramatically.
The Union says it will be visiting Moncton businesses that advertise on the MBS Statioins over the next several days to explain their position, and say if the company does not come back to the table and bargain in good faith, they continue to take the boycott to MBS stations in other markets across the Maritimes in the coming weeks.