Friday, 16 November 2007

Lost benefits

Where have all the employee benefits gone? Long time passing.

That comes to mind as SONG union reps count down to negotiations for a second Toronto Sun newsroom contract.

Sun employees have surrendered all of the comfortable benefits gained during the glory years of the tabloid and lost since Quebecor came a knocking in 1999.

Sabbaticals - gone.

Profit sharing - gone.

Stock options - gone.

Christmas bonuses - gone.

Axing those benefits improved the bottom line for Quebecor and its shareholders, but it has deprived employees at the profitable tabloid of well-deserved rewards.

Recent news that Quebecor Media had its best quarter ever must have felt like a slap in the face for veteran Sun staffers who remember Doug Creighton's annual letter outlining the Sun's performance and the allotted share of profits.

And the share of profits for veteran staffers wasn't chicken feed.

Doug, Peter and Don also played Santa each year, handing out envelopes stuffed with cash amounting to a full week's pay.

Sabbaticals - two months paid leave after each 10 years of service - were the envy of employees at the other Toronto dailies.

And after the Sun went public, Doug et al allowed us to buy shares using a payroll deduction plan.

The benefits put extra cash in our bank accounts and, over the years, helped buy houses, pay off mortgages, purchase new cars and generally improved our lifestyles.

(Doug encouraged employees to use their sabbaticals to travel and experience new adventures, but some stayed home and banked the eight weeks of pay.)

Gone, along with the sabbaticals, profit sharing, stock options and Christmas bonuses - loyalty and a great amount of morale.

In a nutshell, Doug Creighton et al were newspaper people to the core and believed the good fortunes of the Sun should be shared with the people who helped make it a huge success

And then there is Quebecor.

There is little left to surrender at the flagship tabloid, but good luck during contract negotiations.


  1. Ahhh...but remember that organizing to join a union cleaned the slate of the profit sharing and Christmas bonus, which those smart enough to stay away from union mentality still enjoy.

  2. Yeah, and how much are those anymore? They can take them away from you at any time without explanation, or give you any amount they deign to give (they've never explained what profit sharing is actually based on, and Christmas bonuses have already been slashed once).

    As Brad explains above, we got that money in the form of extra pay raises every year of the first contract. It's guaranteed and it increases the base pay against which all future raises are calculated.
    Ours adds up better than yours. If you're smart, you can negotiate "concessions" and come out ahead.

    Enjoy away, Mr. Anonymous. Ignorance is bliss, after all.
    Jim Slotek