March 6, 2017 – Local 191 members employed at the Winnipeg Free Press authorized a local workplace committee to enter into discussions with management to explore options to secure the financial stability of the newspaper.
By an overwhelming margin, inside workers approved the move at a special meeting held Sunday.
“We go into these meetings knowing members are angry and distrustful of the ownership and local management,” said Local 191 president Aldo Santin. “Even among those members who support this decision, they do so reluctantly. They feel betrayed by management and ownership.”
This is not a re-opening of the contract. Discussions will focus solely on options to provide the Company with financial breathing space in the event revenues continue to decline. The committee’s sole priority will be to protect the interests of the members. Unlike contract bargaining, if the committee and management are unable to agree on a solution, the committee will walk way and the status quo remains in effect until the expiry of the contract in June 2018. Management has committed to a provision that any changes affecting union members will also be applied equally to all non-union members.
If both sides find common ground, the committee will bring a proposal to a special meeting of the inside workers for a secret ballot vote. The inside workers will have the final say on any solution affecting them and the collective agreement. If the members, by means of a secret ballot vote, reject a proposal presented to them, the status quo remains in effect until the expiry of the contract.
The next step will be the formation of the committee, representing departments across the building.
We will provide another update when there is a development to report.