As Canadians went to the polls today, editorial, advertising and reader service employees at the Gazette staged a lunch-hour information picket line, carrying signs and handing out leaflets explaining the situation to passers-by. The union, which is negotiating with management for a new contract (the previous one expired June 1), received a strong strike mandate but has so far not exercised it. Conciliation talks are scheduled for next week.
Turnout was pretty good considering there are less than 200 members affected (this includes the entire editorial department). Picket signs surrounded the building on all four sides for about an hour and a half.
Media coverage was very light, considering there’s this whole election thing is going on (have you voted yet?) and all hands on deck fanned out to swing ridings. But a radio reporter and photographer showed up, so you might see a tiny bit of coverage.
The key, though, is that this is just the beginning of the union’s public information campaign (should such a campaign become necessary).
Meanwhile, The Link covers the Gazette labour conflict and byline strike, and has an editorial which posits that in the new digital age, quality of journalism becomes key and wire copy doesn’t cut it anymore.
And La Presse also covers the Gazette today, focusing on the Canwest student scab situation. It includes a new explanation from Canwest, that the student freelancers would be needed mainly to provide material to other newspapers to compensate for the Gazette loss (Canwest has no Montreal bureau and relies on Gazette copy for news from Canada’s second-largest city). Of course, such articles would also be available to The Gazette.
UPDATE (Oct. 16): Hour and Mirror both mention The Gazette’s union issues in their editions this week. Hour has a really good article by Jamie O’Meara arguing against the outsourcing of Gazette jobs (and includes one of my photos to illustrate it). Mirror makes The Gazette its insect of the week for Canwest’s attempts to recruit student scab labour.