Friday, 16 November 2007

Forum: re benefits

An e-mail from Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87-M:

"I've got good news on the lost benefits.

They aren't lost, they just took a different route home.

Knowing that perks such as sabbaticals, Christmas bonuses and profit sharing were in Quebecor's gun sights, we (the Editorial union members) successfully converted them into a format, ie wages and additional time off, that couldn't be taken away from us at the whim of someone in Montreal.

People who were around at the time of the first contract negotiations in 2004 remember this was one of the last items on table. We went to the members for a strike vote, got 92% support, and won compensation from the company in the last hours of bargaining for the loss of bonuses, profit sharing and sabbaticals.

My recollection is that we added another 2.5% to the wage gains we'd already won in negotiations, plus an additional day off (birthdays). In fact, we'll be getting the last installment on that compensation on Dec. 31 when everyone gets a 1% wage increase on top of the 2.5% increase received earlier this year (plus any grid advancements).

That additional 1% will bring a senior Toronto Sun reporter/photographer's annual wage to $76,202, just $11 per week less than the wages at Canada's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star.

That compares with a typical senior reporter at the non-union Edmonton and Calgary Suns, who make about $50,000 per year.

And with profit sharing and bonuses built into the wage, it's not as vulnerable to the ups and downs of Quebecor fortunes. What's more, the company pays pension contributions on it.

It was a great deal for the members."

Brad Honywill
CEP Local 87-M

Thank you for your e-mail, Brad.


  1. Not such a great deal for all those young talented union members who got laid off at the expense of long-time burned out hacks.

  2. Yeah, life would be paradise under Quebecor without a union.
    As a matter of fact, younger staffers got the most dramatic pay increases under this contract (some you wouldn't believe). Chalk it up to the fact that in a non-union world, the biggest thing young people have going for them is the willingness to work cheap - which is not a great thing to hang a career on, youth being a temporary condition and all.

    Layoffs were in the works even before we certified. While every member we lost was tough to swallow, with the contract, we were able to bring back some younger staff who were initially laid off - via callbacks and because there is language that says one person taking a buyout saves another person's job.
    Before the contract it was no better for young staffers. They laid off young and old indiscriminately and senselessly (tossing some who were making the equivalent of a 7-Eleven employee, big savings indeed).
    It would have happened the same way last time around if we didn't have a contract. Then they would have accepted the voluntary buyouts and considered it gravy.
    Now they're hiring young staff again - at rates befitting professional reporters in Canada's largest city. Yeah, unions suck.
    Jim Slotek
    Just another long-time burned out hack.