This tumultuous year comes to a close with members of the Canadian Media Guild at The Canadian Press reaching several historical milestones.
As we celebrate all that is important at this time of year, including family, friends and a spirit of giving, the CMG also marks 35 years since being recertified as the union representing CP employees.
This year began as 2009 ended ? with the company’s existence in question, the pension benefits received by retirees and future benefits of current members in jeopardy, and without a renewal of the collective agreement in a very uncertain time.
After a long summer in which difficult choices had to be made, we have emerged under the employ of a new company — Canadian Press Enterprises. With the full involvement of the Guild in the process, CP was converted from a non-profit cooperative owned essentially by member newspapers, to a for-profit corporation owned by three newspaper groups, Gesca (Power Corp), Torstar and the Globe and Mail (under a new ownership umbrella of their own fronted by the Thomson family).
Members of the Guild at The Canadian press voted overwhelmingly in late September and early October to ratify a new two-year collective agreement.
In early November, the federal government signed a second regulation needed to allow The Canadian Press to spread special payments on its multi-million dollar pension deficit over 13 years instead of five. This was central in moving forward with the restructured company.
The new contract provides for a 1% across-the-board wage increase that takes effect on New Year’s Day. The agreement also included provisions for the restructuring of the pension plan and a structure for compensating members for foregone contributions to the pension plan.
As you might recall, the Guild was officially certified in July as the bargaining agent for employees at Pagemasters’ North America, a newly-created, Ontario-registered editing and pagination company under the CP banner. After a delayed start, talks are expected to begin early in the new year aimed at creating a first collective agreement for employees of this new entity, which is wholly owned by Canadian Press Enterprises.
I am also pleased to note that we have a new team representing Toronto location unit employees.
Throughout these turbulent times, Guild CP Branch vice-president Roger Ward has been absolutely instrumental in being the eyes, ears and voice for the Guild in Toronto. I cannot thank Roger enough for the work he has done in simply being there to answer your questions and to relay information to the executive about what was going on in Toronto.
Roger has taken on the job of leading a new Toronto location executive, with the aim of fully rebuilding Toronto’s strength as the largest location unit within The Canadian Press. He is joined by veteran CP editor and Guild activist Peter Cameron and Queen’s Park-based reporter Maria Babbage, both of whom have offered to serve as vice presidents. As well, Shi Davidi is staying on as secretary-treasurer. Roger will continue to be a key player at Employer-Employee meetings to be held in the future. These meetings will be dealing with the key issues facing Guild members at The Canadian Press, particularly that of workload.
And, of course, we welcome Lise Millette of Montreal as branch Vice President, following recent elections. Lise’s energy and enthusiasm will be a welcome presence as we continue to discuss issues of importance to you with management.
I thank Guild staff representative Kathy Viner and CMG vice president Scott Edmonds for their hard work, thoughtfulness and dedication to supporting the membership throughout the year. In particular, I thank Scott for his resolve and wisdom as he departs his role as national Guild VP after decades of service to his fellow employees.
As we turn our minds to celebrations and some much-deserved down time, allow me to wish everyone the best of the season, and my hope for a happy and prosperous 2011.
CP Branch President