Friday, August 12, 2016
Now magazine could face lockout by end of August
A no-board report was issued Wednesday at the request of company management, which puts the alternative magazine in a legal strike or lockout position after 17 days.
Unifor 87-M, which represents 52 full- and part-time staff at Now, says it is concerned the company has escalated ongoing contract negotiations by requesting the report from the province, which starts the clock ticking on a possible company lockout or union strike by Saturday, Aug. 27.
The two sides have been at the bargaining table since last December. In recent months, the company has tried to re-bargain items already settled and added new concessions, throwing talks into disarray, said Jonathan Goldsbie, a staff writer at Now and chair of its bargaining unit.
“I don’t think they want a lockout, and I know we don’t want a strike,” he said.
It also raises fears as to the future of the long-running magazine, he said, noting this also comes at a time when Now must vacate its headquarters, which have been sold, at Church St. near Shuter St. this fall.
“It’s not clear what their long-term plan is,” Goldsbie said.
The union applied for provincial conciliation and voted 86.5-per-cent in favour of calling a strike if necessary. Shortly after July 19, the conciliator produced a recommended settlement, which the union accepted.
However, Unifor says the company refused the settlement, along with the union’s offer to go to binding arbitration.
“It is true that the no-board report has been issued,” confirmed Now’s co-founder and publisher Alice Klein in an email.
“In Now’s view, however, much of what has been reported and quoted from union memos is inaccurate,” she said.
Klein declined an interview, but said “we will continue to focus all our efforts on finding a resolution to this impasse that works for our staff, the company and the union.”
Goldsbie said the union also remains “sincerely committed to reaching a deal.”
“We firmly believe in the paper, its social justice mission, and its crucial role in the city’s landscape,” he added.
The paper has a circulation of 100,000 print copies per week, but has been struggling amid declining ad revenues.
Unifor Local 87-M represents about 2,400 media workers across southern Ontario, including the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Metroland community newspapers and 14 Postmedia daily newspapers.
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