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National Post newsroom votes for unionization with Unifor

The new collective agreement comes amid the announcement of 80 layoffs by Postmedia in April and another 40 in May.

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The National Post's Toronto newsroom has voted to unionize with Unifor, according to Unifor spokesman Stuart Laidlaw.

Unifor first announced joint interest in unionizing at the end of September, when they filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The unionization covers roughly 40 employees.

The announcement comes amid declining profits for Postmedia, the National Post's parent company. Quarterly sales are down 30 percent from the same period last year, and the company has laid off dozens of employees while many remaining employees have been subject to wage reductions. The company announced earlier this year that they would permanently shut down 15 newspapers.

Postmedia is not the only media organization which has been suffering in recent years. According to Unifor, which claims to represent nearly 12,000 media workers, "[just] in television local news, we've seen a 23 per cent decline in editorial and operations jobs since 2014. The numbers in print journalism are worse, more like 44 percent." Such declines have accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Postmedia already has 43 collective bargaining agreements, including with Unifor. The new collective agreement comes amid the announcement of 80 layoffs by Postmedia in April and another 40 in May. The May layoffs were announced after Postmedia and their employees failed to reach an agreement on salary reduction.

Many individuals laid off were done so temporarily, according to Postmedia, allowing them to be eligible for Canadian Emergency Response Benefits while still receiving company benefits.

Company executives saw the biggest cuts in pay. Directors received 10% pay cuts while the President and CEO Andrew MacLeod received a 30% pay cut. Remaining staff who earned more than $60,000 annually were subject to a 5% reduction in wages so long as their pay does not fall below $60,000.

Vice-president of communications Phyllise Gelfand stated that the changes are "difficult but necessary," going on to argue that the goal is to leave the company in the  "best possible position to emerge from the current crisis."

Unifor says that they will soon be contacting Postmedia to develop a collective agreement.  

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