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What to consider if you’re thinking about applying for the Voluntary Departure Program

The Guild has discussed the Voluntary Departure Program (VDP) with Canadian Press Enterprises management and here is what we think you need to consider to make an informed decision. The deadline for applications is October 6 and we encourage you to start considering your options right away.

– This is a voluntary departure program, not an early retirement program. Whatever pension entitlement you have earned over the course of your employment at The Canadian Press will be unaffected by your participation in the VDP.

– You have to apply for the VDP and not all employees who apply will necessarily be accepted. All permanent employees in the Guild bargaining unit are eligible to apply, but the company has said it will base acceptance on ?operational requirements and financial restrictions?. They could deny your application if, for example, your departure would leave a department severely understaffed, or if so many people apply that the company can’t afford all the severance payments.

– We’ve been assured by the company that management won’t ?cherry-pick? applicants, i.e. push some people toward the door while simultaneously retaining other employees who would rather go. We will be following the process closely and will deal with any concerns immediately.

– Employees whose application is accepted will receive the same severance payment as they would under the normal layoff provisions of the collective agreement, i.e. a week’s salary for each completed six months of continuous service or major fraction thereof, with a minimum of 4 weeks and a maximum of 52 weeks. The VDP provides for a premium of 7.5% on top of that amount. In return for that additional payment, you would be surrendering your recall and bumping rights.

– The severance would be paid as salary continuance rather than as a lump sum. In other words, your regular paycheques would continue after your departure date until the service time covered runs out. By way of example, if you’re entitled to eighteen weeks of severance pay, you would continue to receive regular paycheques for eighteen weeks plus the 7.5% premium.

Should you take it?
That’s a question that only you can answer. Every person’s situation — financial, professional and personal — is unique.

Faced with the VDP, every employee has a number of options:

1) Apply for the VDP, be accepted and leave the company with full severance and the 7.5% premium.
2) Apply for the VDP, be declined and stay at The Canadian Press.
3) Don’t apply for the VDP and remain at The Canadian Press.

If the company implements layoffs later on, the choices are:

1) Resign voluntarily and collect full severance pay.
2) Receive a layoff notice and choose to displace or ?bump? another employee as per the provisions of the collective agreement.
3) Receive a layoff notice, take the layoff and receive full severance pay along with recall rights for 24 months.
4) Remain with the company if you don’t receive a layoff notice.

If you’re trying to weigh the financial options, we encourage you to seek out independent financial advice. Talk to an accountant, a tax specialist or a financial advisor who can look at your individual situation and suggest investment options or tax-sheltering strategies. You can also access financial or personal counseling through the Employee Assistance Plan.

Many employees have said that they want to have a clearer picture of what Canadian Press Enterprises is planning to do to turn its own fortunes around, particularly in terms of building more dependable sources of revenue, rather than relying solely on cost-cutting. We’ve asked the company to announce a detailed business plan as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions, please talk to your location president, to branch president Terry Pedwell or contact CMG staff rep Keith Maskell at keith@cmg.ca .

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