An attempt to organize the National Post’s newsroom has failed after the Ontario Labour Relations Board delivered a ruling on a number of challenged ballots.
In October 2017, CWA Canada said that a majority of workers voted in favour of joining the union. But seven names on management’s list of employees were challenged by the union, who believed those people did not belong in the bargaining unit.
On April 20, 2018, the labour board released their ruling, finding that two of the employees were in the bargaining unit. A further two employees were agreed by both parties to be in the bargaining unit. That, as well as the departure of at least three staff members via buyouts offered in 2017, put the final vote tally at 32-31 against joining the union.
“Of course we were disappointed,” said Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, in an interview with J-Source, adding that they respect the decision. “If it hadn’t been for losing … people before the vote we would have won this thing.”
Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia’s spokesperson, told J-Source that after a lengthy process, “we are pleased with the outcome.”
On Sept. 13, 2017, CWA Canada and the editorial staff of the National Post announced they had begun a push for unionization. “We’re unionizing because we love this newspaper. We want the Post and its newsroom staff to have long, bright futures,” the union organizing committee said in a statement on the site for the National Post union.
O’Hanlon said that the workers actually approached them to begin a union organization effort after management announced cuts to staff pensions and benefits. “People really got upset,” O’Hanlon told J-Source when the union drive was announced.
A National Post staff person who spoke to J-Source when the union drive was announced added that employees want to take some control back over their workplace and be part of the conversation about Postmedia’s future. “We see this as a positive step,” the staff member said. “We want to contribute to the success of the company.”
O’Hanlon said that they are still there for the workers should they need help improving their workplace. “Postmedia still has a chance to make this right,” he added, noting that they could restore the cut benefits. “We’ll see if they choose to do that,” he said. “If not, we’ll be there to help people in the newsroom try and get their rights.”
Gelfand told J-Source that the company is moving towards a common benefit plan, and the National Post is a part of that.
According to The Canadian Press, the net loss for Postmedia’s second quarter this year was reduced to $1.3 million, down from $28.5 million a year earlier. Digital revenue has risen, up 10.1 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.
With files from The Canadian Press.