Globe and Mail workers vote to strike

Unionized workers at the Globe and Mail have voted almost unanimously to give their bargaining committee the authority to call a strike unless the company improves its contract offer.

TORONTO — Unionized workers at the Globe and Mail have voted almost unanimously to give their bargaining committee the authority to call a strike unless the company improves its contract offer.

The editorial, advertising and circulation workers voted 97 per cent Saturday in favour of strike action in a meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and in Globe bureaus.

While negotiations are to resume Monday, a strike/lockout date has been set for midnight June 30 for the almost 500 employees.

“That’s an incredible level of support, particularly in this economic climate,” said Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, which represents employees at the Toronto-based daily.

“The Globe bargaining committee recognizes that we’re in difficult economic times. They have very modest proposals themselves. They’re hoping the company will come back with something that recognizes the value of the employees,” said Honywill.

Honywill said demands by management would reduce pension plan benefits by up to 50 per cent for future retirees, and cut wages for almost 30 per cent of the workforce. Despite an overall salary increase proposed by management, about 125 workers would see wage cuts and more than 70 per cent of those cuts are to women in predominantly female-dominated work areas, Honywill said.

Honywill said “over-the-top concessions” encouraged people who wouldn’t normally think of going on strike to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate.

He said it was the strongest show of support for strike action in years, with 302 out of 311 ballots cast in favour.

Management had proposed a six-year-deal, which includes a total compounded salary increase of 7.2 per cent over six years.

It has also proposed one unpaid week off each year for all employees, a workday increase to 7.5 hours from seven, with no extra pay for the half hour, overtime paid at straight time for the first half hour and changes to pensions.

In an e-mail, Globe publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley said he had little to add to comments he had made on Friday.

”We have two more bargaining sessions set for next week so any comment is premature,” Crawley said in the e-mail.

On Friday, Crawley said he wouldn’t discuss what management was seeking.

“We’re doing this in the middle of a recession that is affecting every media company,” Crawley had said, adding that his message to the staff has been that opportunities will come out of the recession and the Globe will be in a good position when economic conditions improve.

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