Union chair Stuart Laidlaw told J-Source Tuesday that management rejected the proposal and will continue on the Star’s original plan to outsource page editing to Pagesmasters. The newspaper will downsize with 26 page editors taking buyouts or facing layoffs.

The Toronto Star has rejected a proposal that the union says would have minimized the number of page editors laid off.

Union chair Stuart Laidlaw told J-Source Tuesday that management rejected the proposal and will continue on the Star’s original plan to outsource page editing to Pagesmasters. The newspaper will downsize with 26 page editors taking buyouts or facing layoffs.

“We are extremely disappointed,” Laidlaw said. “The Star is supposed to be the paper of the people. But it’s made a decision to outsource for lower paying jobs.”

According to memo sent by publisher John Cruickshank, the decision was based on focusing the Star’s in-house efforts on content creation.

"The state of our industry necessitates continued cost reductions, and we believe that it is better to find these efficiencies in the print production process rather than in our core work of news gathering and reporting," he wrote in the memo. "From both a short-term and long-term perspective, outsourcing of this work provides the best solution for the Star […]Outsourcing provides the most cost effective and flexible financial basis for the production and design work associated with the Star’s print publication, now and in the future."

However, Laidlaw says, “a big part of the creativity of a newspaper is how you lay it out. It’s a real shame that will be outsourced now.”


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The union presented its plan for $1.46 million in annual savings to management. A key component of the union proposal is the creation of one multimedia production desk with a team of paginators cross trained for both pages and the web.

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The union also suggested converting four full-time page editor positions into permanent part-time positions, expanding the use of a flexible schedule for page editors, and eliminating night differential. Laidlaw said this would allow the company to downsize 11 positions through buyouts and layoffs instead of the planned 26 production layoffs. 

“Basically, they still didn’t agree with our numbers,” Laidlaw said.

The Star's editor Michael Cooke said in another memo to staff that many of the union's proposals and ideas "went beyond the scope of print page production, and for this and other reasons, the claim of having exceeded the company's stated cost reductions through outsourcing was not met."

Cooke added that "I cannot promise this is the end of cuts, although nothing further is planned at the moment."

Print production at Pagemasters North America will be phased in over the summer, he said. 

Read the memo from publisher John Cruickshank here:

Read the memo from Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke:

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.