National Post workers to vote today on joining a union

Vote comes after number of staff left via buyouts offered in mid-September. Continue Reading National Post workers to vote today on joining a union

Today, National Post workers will get a chance to vote on whether they want to become a unionized workplace.

On Sept. 22, CWA Canada organizers announced that they were applying for union certification after a months-long organizing drive. “We’re unionizing because we love this newspaper,” the newsroom union committee said in a statement posted on their website. “We want the Post and its newsroom staff to have long, bright futures.”

Postmedia spokesperson Phyllise Gelfand told J-Source that the company would not provide a statement relating to the organizing drive, and that they are communicating directly with employees.

On Sept. 7, a week before the drive was made public, Postmedia management offered a buyout to staff, which, according to a memo from the union organizing committee obtained by J-Source, was the same as an offer distributed in 2016.

“This appeal was an attempt to stop us from organizing collectively to address those concerns. That’s because Postmedia knows we will be more effective together,” the memo, distributed on Sept. 7, stated. The rest of the memo appears at the end of this story.

Among the staff J-Source has confirmed took buyouts were reporter Ashley Csanady, Legal Post editor Drew Hasselback, web editor Erika Gilbert and reporter Peter Kuitenbrouwer.

Last week, after the buyouts were announced, hiring notices were posted for web producers for the National Post and business reporters for the Financial Post.

Larry Savage, an associate professor in the department of labour studies at Brock University, told J-Source that it is totally within the rights for any company to hire, offer buyouts or fire people during the card-signing period of a union organizing drive. It just can’t be motivated by anti-union animus. Even proving that there is anti-union animus is very difficult, says Savage.

After the application for certification is submitted, the employer can’t unilaterally change the terms and conditions of work.

Management also can express its views about unionization – they just can’t make threats or intimidate employees.

CWA Canada organizers have remained confident throughout the drive that enough employees had signed union cards to proceed to a certification vote. “The buyouts didn’t really have an impact on the effort,” Katherine Lapointe, a CWA Canada organizer, told J-Source.

The following memo was sent to National Post staff on Sept. 7, 2017, from the National Post union committee.

On Thursday, members of management told you they’re putting the buyout offer from last year back on the table.

They told you they’ve heard that some of you would have taken that offer the first time if you had known a significant benefit and pension cut was just around the corner. They say they’re listening to your concerns and are here to help address them.

In reality, this appeal was an attempt to stop us from organizing collectively to address those concerns. That’s because Postmedia knows we will be more effective together.

As a unionized workforce, you will have representation to negotiate better conditions for future buyouts, should they be offered. Your colleagues will be fighting for higher pay and better benefits. You’ll have a voice to stand up to the company’s executives when they say they need to take more money from your pockets.

Some of you have recently been approached by editors and human resources, offering you raises and other improvements to your working conditions after years of frozen pay and heavier workloads. We think that’s great.

We encourage you to accept those perks – and join us in fighting for the rest of your colleagues to get theirs, too.

If you’ve already signed a card, thank you for your support. If you haven’t, it’s never been more important for you to get on board. You can sign a card online here.

Members of management say they want to hear your concerns. So do we. The difference is we have your best interests at heart. Postmedia is motivated by its bottom line – we’re motivated to create a better, fairer newsroom.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at hgwatson.com.