Tuesday, 27 April 2010

SONG appeal

Updated 28/4/10 re Metro strike deadline link
Nine Sun Media newspapers in Ontario are nearing a strike/lockout date this spring, SONG's president discloses in a letter to journalism program coordinators across Canada.

The Sun Media newspapers named by Brad Honywill are the Sarnia Observer, Chatham News, London Free Press, Simcoe Reformer, Stratford Beacon-Herald (advertising), Brantford Expositor, Niagara Falls Review, Belleville Intelligencer and Pembroke Observer.

Honywill asks journalism program professors/instructors to urge graduating students "not to take jobs with any struck or locked out newspapers."

"Our Local - CEP Local 87-M (Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild) - has several workplaces that are nearing a strike/lockout date in late April through May, including the Metro free daily in Toronto and nine Sun Media papers

"In all cases, the union is seeking modest, but very fundamental changes, to the employers' offers," he says in the letter.

"Despite that, if we find ourselves in a strike or lockout situation, we expect the employer to try to use the labour of students or recent graduates to do our work, undermining our bargaining power and chances of success.

"While these students may find that treasured first job in these circumstances, they will be contributing to the deterioration in working conditions for their craft, and therefore their own future.

"And they will always be remembered for furthering their own careers on the backs of their fellow workers.

"So please, forward this email to your students and relevant staff, and post it at the school, requesting that your students stay neutral in any labour conflict by not taking the work of striking or locked out journalists."


  1. They're thousands of dollars in debt with student loans.

    No little warning from a union is going to deter them from getting a job, despite the fact they'll be grossly underpaid as scab workers.

  2. Typical Intimidation 101 from a union. Never forget that it's the union that negotiates contracts that always ensure it's the newly hired students who are are always the first to get laid off.

  3. It's fair notice that such short-sighted and self-interested actions WILL have long-term repercussions.

  4. The union is incredibly optimistic or blind if it believes workers at many of those newspapers are willing to strike.
    Trust me, they're not.
    Anyone who would want to strike in this environment is insane.

  5. Typical Intimidation 101 from a union. Never forget that it's the union that negotiates contracts that always ensure it's the newly hired students who are are always the first to get laid off. So wrote anonymous.
    Let's look at it the other way. You've been at the same paper for 20 years, you've devoted your working life to it, and because you have experience your pay is better than someone who has six months' experience. So anonymous says all that loyalty by the 20-year worker should trashed and the job handed to the newbie — so the company can save a few bucks.
    Using your formula, and considering Quebecor's reputation as an employer, Sun papers would soon be loaded with 21-year-olds if the union was not there to enforce workers' rights. Nothing wrong with 21-year-olds — in moderation — but Quebecor has never been known for moderation.

  6. 1:17: Yes, that's called seniority protection and managers don't like it because it inhibits their ability to replace experienced staff with cheap, obedient sycophants.
    3:06: So the solution is to roll over and take it up the tailpipe?

  7. To Anonymous 1:17

    Hooray, you've finally made the mental leap for which you've been indoctrinated. You hate your advocates instead of your antagonists. Bosses know best. Add to that the fact that the public school system is crap, and private schools are good. And our health care system is crap too. It should be privatized.
    Incidentally, you're only newly-hired for a minute. After that, being willing to work for less than the next guy is a pretty sad thing to hang a career on.
    Jim Slotek
    Vice Chair
    Toronto Sun Unit
    Local 87-M

  8. Lew...we all know people who think 20 years gives them the right to slack off. Even the Russians realize that no one has the right to a job. We have to continue earning it every year or we jeopardize the livelihood of our collegues. If the veteran is more valuable to an organization then most sensible companies will pay for that value. The problem arises when employees no longer push to grow their value and rely on seniority alone to maintain an advantage over others who continue to improve themselves.

  9. Yes the union has really proved beneficial in Montreal, hasn't it?

    Lock them out, hire the students for pennies, label their stuff QMI Agency and PKP is laughing all the way to the bank.

    He doesn't care about his employees, only his bankroll. I'm sure he's thrilled with the prospects of all these papers going on strike.

  10. Why would a paper like Brantford go on strike? Is $50,000 a year for reporters to pump out one (maybe two if city hall burnt down) story per day not enough? That paper is bleeding money but let's ask for more, or maybe assured job protection because that is realistic.
    Keep asking for more while giving a half-assed effort. And when it comes time to lay off, keep the longest-employed, not the best-employed. It's in the union constitution.

  11. Don't cut up the reporters in Brantford. Like any ship, management controls the rudder and a compass has been missing for years there at the management level.

  12. 9:24 p.m. I don't know if you actually work in journalism, but I doubt it, considering the number of grammatical and spelling errors you made. In any event, what you are actually advocating is a system in which management — and management alone — gets to call the shots. They'd be the ones determining whether you really put effort into the job. It's called favoritism — and that brings back memories of the days when the biggest suck-ups got the biggest raises — all at management discretion.
    And 12:23 … well, you sound like a smug middle-management type who considers anyone but yourself to be a lazy dolt.

  13. How about we all agree that unions can be very helpful, but at times protect some who actually deserve to lose their jobs.

  14. A more reasonable post than some of those above, but define "deserve?" Every contract has a whole chapter of reasons for which people can and do lose their jobs - insubordination, lengthy disappearance from work, chronic and demonstrable work performance issues, legal contraventions.
    But when "deserve" means you make more money than some kid by dint of doing your job longer (and invariably better - sorry, in this day and age of minimal staffing, "deadwood" is a myth), then it's kind of an abuse of the dictionary.

  15. 9:50. Well said. Unions have provided great value to many workers over the years. They risk contributing to the demise of companies if they ignore the reality that some people actually don't work hard enough and drag down the efforts of others who actually care. Most managers were staffers at one point who worked hard enough to get promoted. Not all " Suck-ed up ". But companies have both staff AND managers who don't deserve to keep their positions.

  16. Hey Lew.... you need to recognize that it takes more than journalists to produce a successful, competitive publication. Does your union encourage any form of pay for performance? Nope, all brothers are equal regardless of their effort and quality of work.
    There is a middle ground.

  17. 9:50 p.m. I know several people at the Toronto Sun who should have been fired many years ago, but somehow managed to hang on. How? These people were hired by buddies — before the union was formed. They were protected. They were shielded. When the union was formed, these people maintained their seniority and their paycheques.
    You cannot make laws — or union bylaws — based on specific cases. You have to take what is usually not-too-common instances of incompetence and live with them. Nor can you draft rules that are retroactive.
    Managers are much more aware now of the consequences of letting incompetents stay on past their probation.
    In the past they were all too willing to overlook faults in a good drinking buddy. And sometimes they just plain felt sorry for their pals.
    In short, management infallibility ain't what it's cracked up to be and unions provide a necessary balance.

  18. I get paid less than people who got hired on two years after me because I work at a non union Quebecor paper. I have complained and nothing gets done but scare tactics. What a company, their Grrrrrrrrrreat! (sarcasm)

  19. After a couple decades in this business I am yet to find a newsroom where someone didn't think someone else didn't deserve to have a job, or made too much money, or was being unjustly protected by management/the union/God. It goes with the territory. On the other hand, I haven't found a newsroom yet that had a union just because everybody thought it would be a good idea to shed income on union dues. Every union I have found was formed because of fear and actual experiences with some form of abusive management. The fact that years later that might not be the case any more is the way it goes. Suck it up and carry on and work with what you got. Anybody on either side of that divide who thinks its just going to be handed to them on a platter has another think coming, because that just isn't the way it is.

  20. @ 1:24pm... maybe the lack of raise has to do with things errors "their great."

    As someone already said, students won't say no to a job when they're wet behind the ears, and I don't blame them for it either. With such a limited supply of journalism gigs out there, who can begrudge them trying to get their foot in the door?

    I think the Union is being a tad nearsighted on this one...

  21. @1:24pm Same thing happened to me, I won many awards every year and never missed a day of work and it went unappreciated year after year. They promote incompetence and want nothing to do with good work. They just want yes men and idiots they can push around.