Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Contracts info

So what did the nine Sun Media newspapers settle for with their unique coordinated bargaining strategy?

Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87M, says wage increases for this round of bargaining "followed a pattern of 0-1-1.5% over three years, although getting a defined benefit pension plan amounted to a 5% increase in some cases."

Papers involved were the Sarnia Observer; Chatham Daily News; London Free Press (editorial); Simcoe Reformer; Stratford Beacon-Herald (advertising); Brantford Expositor; Niagara Falls Review; Belleville Intelligencer; and Pembroke Observer (editorial).

Says Honywill: "There were many other gains of various significance at various newspapers. Overall, the contracts were strongly endorsed by the membership, the best possible proof that the coordinated bargaining was a success."

Contract negotiations for several other Sun Media newspapers, including the Toronto Sun, are pending.

Honywill also provided TSF with a replay leading up to the settlement:

"Last fall, Sun Media came to the union with a new health benefits plan to replace the myriad of plans at the various newspapers across the chain. We were told that the plan was 'non-negotiable' and that it would apply to both management and union employees.

"The union had some fundamental problems with the plan.

"First, we didn't like being told that a change to compensation - and benefits are a part of compensation - was non-negotiable.

"Second, it represented a significant reduction in coverage for many people, although it was in different ways for different people in different workplaces.

"Third, it segregated health benefits into three plans which, ultimately, would concentrate the heavy users in the most expensive plan, driving up rates for that group, and encouraging most people to go into the cheapest plan with the least amount of coverage.

"Lastly, the plan assumed that any future cost increases in health care would be passed on to our members.

"In exchange for accepting flex benefits, the leaders of the nine Sun Media workplaces in CEP 87m (SONG) received two things: a guarantee that any cost increases would be shared between the company and the members and that members would receive a benefit approximately equal to what they were losing by accepting Flex.

"For many of the workplaces, that meant getting into a defined benefit pension plan. That's a real pension plan, not an RRSP, which most companies are trying to drop because of the cost.

"But the exact 'quid pro quo' or trade-off varied according to what/how much each workplace was losing. In other workplaces, like those that already had a good pension plan, the trade-off may have been cash in some form."

1 comment:

  1. Good deal for the company as they achieved everything they were looking for. Nice job Chris Krygiel.