The Toronto Star union has put together a proposal which it says will avoid most layoffs and save the company 50 per cent more than contracting out editing services to Pagemasters North America. The union presented its plan for $1.46 million in annual savings to management on Friday and are expecting a response Tuesday at 11:30 a.m, says union chair Stuart Laidlaw.

The Toronto Star union has put together a proposal which it says will avoid most layoffs and save the company 50 per cent more than contracting out editing services to Pagemasters North America.

The union presented its plan for $1.46 million in annual savings to management on Friday and are expecting a response Tuesday at 11:30 a.m, says union chair Stuart Laidlaw. A key component of the union proposal is the creation of one multimedia production desk that gets rid of department silos and creates a pool of paginators and editors for both pages and the web.

"Right now we have one desk that does print pages and another desk that does web. And the two desks are on opposite sides of the newsroom, which doesn't make a lot of sense"," Laidlaw told J-Source. "We suggest cross training people on both jobs, so that there's one centralized desk."

This in-house centralization, Laidlaw says, will allow the newspaper to be more efficient, save time and money and allow the company to evolve more web-based operations."We even put together a new floor plan so that web and print can be more linked up," Laidlaw said. 


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The union proposal also includes converting four full-time page editors positions into permanent part-time positions and expanding the use of a flexible schedule for page editors. Additionally, all staffers will lose out on night differential. Laidlaw said this would allow the company to downsize 11 positions through buyouts and layoffs instead of the planned 26 production layoffs. 

Laidlaw said the plan was well-received, but he noted that some of the management seemed "stuck on the fact that Pagesmasters North America paid half of what page editors are paid in-house."

Contract talks will continue next week, Laidlaw said, adding that the Toronto Star radio room summer internships have been saved for now with management accepting the union's proposal for a 20 per cent pay cut for those interns. "That's a temporary decision," he said. "We now have to see if we can make it permanent."

Read the union memo here:

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.