Will the union force layoffs or promotions based on seniority?
Right now, management has the right to promote and layoff people as they see fit. We haven’t heard that anyone thinks this needs to change . . . and National Post management wouldn’t give up that right without a fight. Having a union would mean that you and your coworkers have a say in determining what would happen should management demonstrate that layoffs are necessary. You could negotiate ways to prevent layoffs, and require that management consider proposals, such as reducing work hours, job sharing, and asking for voluntary resignations first. If layoffs are still needed, you and your coworkers get to decide the criteria, which could include skill, merit, and qualifications.
Can forming a union help us lessen the impact of Postmedia’s cuts to our benefits and pension?
Yes. Forming a union means that your employer can no longer unilaterally impose cuts or change working conditions without a negotiation. Negotiating collectively through a union also gives you more leverage. The Postmedia papers that currently have a union won’t face the same level of cuts as National Post staff. For example, the workers at The Ottawa Citizen are currently negotiating to keep parental leave top up, higher pension contributions, and more.
Who gets to decide what goes into the collective agreement?
You do. You will set your own priorities and negotiate with the company with help from CWA Canada. You will start with a clean sheet and set down what you as a group want to negotiate. It will become an agreement only if a majority of you vote in favour of it. The standards and protections that make it into your final agreement will be those that are most important for the largest number of your coworkers. This means the agreement will suit your needs and the needs of the company. If you don’t want seniority-based provisions, then you wouldn’t negotiate that into the collective agreement.
Can having a union help us to address fairness in pay?
Yep. You and your coworkers can choose to negotiate minimum pay scales for each job category, and ensure that people are being paid equally for doing the same work. During the recent negotiations at VICE Canada, setting minimums for each position and addressing pay equity resulted in workers receiving pay increases ranging between 2 per cent and 52 per cent when the collective agreement came into effect.
Will the union stop me from moving to a different job in the company?
No. In fact, having a union will help you create a simple and transparent way to get opportunities to work on new and different projects and move to different jobs. You and your co-workers can negotiate for more opportunities and accessible pathways for training, secondments and promotions.
When will we start paying dues?
You will only start paying dues when the first collective agreement is in place. CWA Canada sets dues at 1.3% of employment earnings and they are tax deductible.
Will management know I signed a union card?
No. The cards are only seen by the union and the labour board. The employer is only told the overall proportion of employees who support the union.
But what if someone finds out? Can they fire me?
No, not legally. Canadian law protects the right of workers to form a union without fear of backlash from the employer.
After I sign a card, what's next?
Once we have a solid majority in favour of the union, we will make an application to the labour board to certify the union as your bargaining representative. The board will review the cards to ensure we have enough support to call a secret vote. Everyone in the proposed bargaining unit will have a chance to vote.
What if I don’t sign a card?
That’s ok. But if the majority of your colleagues decide they want the union, you will likely be in the new bargaining unit. And no matter who signs or doesn’t sign, everyone will enjoy the same protections and a chance to have a say on union priorities.
Once the union is official, we can begin to meet with management to negotiate a collective agreement. Before that, members of the new union will elect representatives from among the group and everyone can participate in setting priorities for negotiations. A bargaining committee, selected from the group, will have the support of CWA Canada staff at the bargaining table and throughout the process. Once an agreement is reached, all members of the union will have a chance to vote on whether to approve it.
Does management have an obligation to bargain with our union?
Yes, in Ontario, management is legally obligated to bargain in good faith with unions. In fact, Postmedia has 53 collective agreements across the chain, and are currently negotiating with CWA Canada locals at the Ottawa Citizen, the Kingston Whig-Standard and the Windsor Star.
The National Post is not in a great financial position right now, is this the right time to organize?
In these uncertain times, we need a union now more than ever. Having a union will put us all in a much stronger position to negotiate for protections, standards and benefits that cannot be unilaterally changed by management. Postmedia may continue to cut costs in the future, but with a union in place our pensions, health benefits, parental leave, and more will no longer be easy targets. With the most recent round of cuts to our pensions and benefits, Postmedia said it saved $22.8 million. Saving money shouldn’t happen solely on the backs of the employees whose commitment and hard work continues to make the National Post an award winning newspaper.
What is CWA Canada?
CWA Canada is this country’s only all-media union, with 6,000 members at newspapers and media outlets from coast-to-coast, including the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Kingston-Whig Standard, Sudbury Star and several other Postmedia papers. We believe a quality media system is built on healthy organizations that treat workers fairly. Find out more at www.cwacanada.ca.