Photographers at BNI papers, including the Telegraph-Journal and Times & Transcript, were laid off, effectively eliminating the photography desks in those two newsrooms.

By Chantal Braganza, Associate Editor

On Mar. 6, staff photographers at Brunswick News Inc. papers, including the Telegraph-Journal and Times & Transcript were served notices of layoffs, effectively eliminating the photography desks in those two newsrooms.

Communication Workers of America-Canada President Martin O’Hanlon confirmed that the union, which represents the local unions of BNI newspapers in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John, was notified of the layoffs on Monday. Two staff photographers at the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John were laid off Monday afternoon. At the Times & Transcript in Moncton, three full-time positions—including one desk chief and two staff photographers—were let go. 

CWA Moncton president Dwayne Tingley said that notices served at the Times & Transcript were effective immediately, and that the provision for layoffs in that newsroom included three weeks of pay per year of service worked, to a maximum of 52 weeks.

“None of them have signed off on it yet,” he said. 

At the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, which is also represented by CWA Canada, local president Stephen Llewellyn said that the one unionized staff photographer at the paper had not yet been laid off as of Tuesday. “The FTU Local 664 five-year contract with Brunswick News ran out on Oct. 31, 2014,” he wrote via email. “I can say no date has been set for contract negotiations to begin. Layoffs are not permitted during contract talks.”

O’Hanlon and Tingley added that the union intends to launch grievances against the layoffs. At the time, both reps said, it wasn’t clear whether there were plans introduce increased freelance photography assignments at either paper.

“There’s provisions in the collective agreement that they can’t use freelancers to replace the jobs of full-time employees,” O’Hanlon said.

An emailed statement to BNI staff from regional general manager of weeklies Jean Claude D’Amours, however, noted that, “Our reporters now have the technology to quickly and easily take pictures allowing them to provide the essential elements to deliver quality content to our readers.

“There have been staffing cutbacks, but not so much lately,” said Tingley. “Over the past couple of years when somebody retires, their positions aren’t filled. But a whole department—that really blindsided us. No one saw that coming.”

CORRECTION: This story has been edited to correct an earlier misspelling of Brunswick News Inc.