Pending Postmedia sale among employee concerns that spurred drive.

By Chantal Braganza, Associate Editor

Yesterday morning, employees in certain divisions of Sun Media’s Toronto offices received emails and envelopes announcing the launch of a drive to organize a union with Unifor. 

“We’ve been getting interest for years from people who wanted to organize at Sun Media,” said Unifor Local 87-M representative Brad Honywill. “It’s only recently that it’s gotten more serious.”

Employee concerns that spurred the drive’s launch, said Honywill, included a five-year freeze on wage increases, the removal of certain benefits such as maternity leave top-ups and Quebecor’s pending sale of Sun Media’s 175 papers to Postmedia Network Canada Corp.—a deal expected to close in the first quarter of this year

“There are concerns about how people’s jobs might change, and the fact that they won’t have any say in what happens to them. The union gives them the ability to do that,” said Honywill.

Prepress and editorial workers at the Toronto Sun have been unionized under Local 87-M since 2003. Much of the demonstrated interest in launching a unionizing initiative came from Sun Media Corporation’s QMI Agency and, though Honywill said full details about which divisions of the Quebecor-owned company might take part in the early steps of organizing aren’t yet known.

“We’re gauging interest right now and asking where it’s coming from,” he said. “Until we know which groups are interested or how large it is, we don’t know what shape the proposed bargaining unit will take, nor do we know when the vote will be called.”

“There may be an information meeting. There isn’t one planned, but there’s a lot of discussions going on in the workplace.”

To apply for union certification, 40 per cent of workers of a defined bargaining unit would have to sign up for membership cards to Local 87-M, which currently represents 13 other Sun Media papers, in addition to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and Hamilton Spectator.