Collective bargaining between the Canadian Media Guild and The Canadian Press has effectively been deadlocked over CP’s demands that an increase in compensation, in any form, come out of the pockets of Group 3 editorial CP employees in some other way.
The Canadian Press editorial employees continue to lag behind their colleagues at other major media operations, both in terms of starting and top salaries. Three-quarters of our members live in cities where they earn less than those at major CP clients. The gap is as great as 73 per cent in Toronto in some circumstances. The employer is intent on seeing that disparity grow, not shrink.
Collective bargaining has taken place on and off for about a year and a half. In that time, there was a one per cent wage increase to help offset higher pension contributions made by each employee. But even that minuscule wage increase came later than anticipated and led to an arbitration that has yet to be resolved. As the size of CP’s staff continues to shrink, workload continues to mount and put extra stress and pressure on CMG members. Instead of recognizing the hard work of its employees in a meaningful way, CP offers nice words and token gestures.
Leadership at CP is making several egregious demands such as freezing your salaries for three years and then using the money it would take away from you to present it as a one-time $750 signing bonus. Other major concessions are also part of their offer and they would impact employees across the board, whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran.
The company also wants to siphon money from the pockets of Group 3 members by doubling the amount of time it takes a new employee to reach the top of the pay scale. Under their proposal what presently takes 5 years would take 10 years. The model would be a major setback for newer employees who have yet to reach the top of the grid and affect future generations of staff. For longtime employees, CP leadership wants to erase the promised sixth week of vacation that comes after sticking with the company for 24 years.
Even when your bargaining team has been willing to compromise, CP leaders have hardly budged. For instance, the CMG agreed to a one-time $300 limit on special corrective lenses. CP has also tried to remove the right of employees to have eye examinations on company time over a simple request to clarify language.
It’s time our members made it clear they won’t stand by and idly watch their working conditions further deteriorate.
We need to demonstrate CP employees find the company’s actions unacceptable and send a clear message that they are willing to stand up for the treatment they deserve. To do this we’ll need to organize a plan of action within the boundaries set out by the various governing provincial labour statutes. This will include demonstrations of solidarity and a resounding “No” vote to the company’s “offer” that will signal CP must come up with something better or even stronger action may follow from its disappointed members.
At the same time, we are immediately applying for conciliation in Ontario and Quebec, where the bulk of our members work. This process should conclude before the date of the federal election. We are planning meetings across the country to answer any questions members have about the state of negotiations or the company’s latest contract offer. We intend to communicate the dates and times of meetings and the subsequent votes including tight timelines. More than one vote must be held because of provincial certifications.
The Guild and bargaining committee have delayed this action as we waited for more detailed financial disclosure from CP. It took a long time but we finally received enough information to believe our position is reasonable. We thought by this time we might’ve found common ground with the company and a new collective agreement that members would accept. Sadly, it did not happen.
Now it is up to members to help us return to the table with a clear mandate and a warning that time for talking is running out! Your continued support and solidarity are much appreciated!
The Guild bargaining committee at The Canadian Press: