Globe union rejects company’s contract offer

Management and the union representing Globe and Mail workers are set to resume contract talks Tuesday after members rejected the company’s latest offer.

TORONTO — Management and the union representing Globe and Mail workers are set to resume contract talks Tuesday after members rejected the company’s latest offer.

Editorial, advertising and circulation workers voted 89 per cent Saturday against a revised proposal emailed to them a day earlier.

Only hours after the vote, the company and the union agreed to restart negotiations.

“The union asked management for a meeting on Monday or Tuesday, following the vote by its members on Saturday to reject the company’s proposals for settlement,” said Globe publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley.

“That meeting is being arranged for Tuesday morning.”

A union representative for the Toronto daily said management made the first move.

“It’s a positive sign that they want to come back and talk, and hopefully that means they’re prepared to make some compromises,” said Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

The strong rejection, based on a 65 per cent turnout, comes just days ahead of a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. July 1. Workers voted almost unanimously last weekend in favour of a walkout.

The proposal voted down Saturday would have reduced the collective agreement’s length to five years from six. It also gave existing employees the option to convert their defined-benefit pension plan into a defined-contribution plan — which offers a lower payment — or stick with their defined plan under an increased member contribution rate.

New hires would have been started only in a defined contribution plan.

After putting forward the last offer, Crawley told The Canadian Press on Friday that in recessionary times, the company considered it to be “fair and reasonable.”

Crawley also said management wasn’t planning on locking some 480 employees out when their existing contract expires.

Honywill said workers recognize it’s a difficult year for newspapers and they’re willing to be flexible, such as by accepting a wage freeze.

The rejected offer maintained previously proposed annual wage increases of zero per cent in 2009 and 2010, 1.5 per cent in 2011, two per cent in 2012 and 2.5 per cent in 2013.

Of 292 ballots cast by union members at a Toronto hotel and other bureau locations Saturday, 260 voted against the offer.

The message sent to management by the no vote was that “membership is resolved to seek a fairer deal,” Honywill said.

Members are still looking for improvements in the pension scheme, job security and are against “significant salary cuts” proposed for a number of job classifications, he added.

Advertising revenue has fallen steadily for the Globe in recent quarters, similar to many other major Canadian media outlets. The company said that in May, its ad revenue fell 28 per cent over the same time a year earlier.

As of the strike vote last Saturday, union workers were already making picket plans and preparing to launch a website if there is no agreement inked.

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