Bargaining at The Canadian Press: first meeting
On November 12 we met with the employer to start negotiations for a new collective agreement. The company was represented by CEO Malcolm Kirk, Chief Financial Officer Marc Beisheim, Director of Finance Dan Monteith, along with Alan Bower and David Callum from Star Media Group, which handles labour relations for CP. Bower will be serving as the company’s lead spokesperson, as he did in the last round of negotiations.
Initial meetings like this one are generally used to give an overview of each side’s position as we go into bargaining. This time around was no different. Not surprisingly, the company painted a not-so-rosy view of the media sector for the foreseeable future. The company also said it is encountering challenges as a result of the transformations that are occurring in our industry. Although clients and consumers are constantly in search of more and better information, they are less willing to pay for it; as a result, revenue projections are somewhat bleak. At the same time, CP is telling us that the company finds it has to spend a lot to be up-to-date and competitive.
The company says it is facing two other major financial challenges at the moment. One is the ongoing costs associated with maintaining the company’s pension plans. The other is that the ownership group (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and Gesca) have stated that they will no longer provide any additional financial support to CP; the company is expected to become fully self-sufficient.
We will be pushing the company for greater detail on its finances as we go through the bargaining process.
As for the Guild’s side of the conversation, we presented a brief document outlining our bargaining objectives. This document is based largely on your responses to the recent bargaining survey, as well as our experience with the company over the last several years. A number of the issues that we raised are of an administrative nature and can be changed at little to no cost. Others, of course, will incur additional expense for the company – most notably wages, which continue to lag behind those of our peers at other major media organizations in Canada.
Our challenge over the coming weeks will be to find a way to reconcile our competing needs: ensuring that our members have fulfilling and meaningful jobs with good wages and proper working conditions, and simultaneously taking into account the fact that the company needs resources and tools to remain competitive in a constantly changing industry.
Our next face-to-face meetings are scheduled for December 11-12. We expect the company to present some or all of its bargaining proposals at that time.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact any of us at any time.
Your bargaining team:
Riaz Ladha, IT, Toronto
Michel Lamarche, Reporter/Editor, Montreal
Terry Pedwell, President, CP Branch
Keith Maskell, CMG Staff Representative