Unionized workers at the Globe and Mail have ratified a five-year contract that was negotiated in a high-pressure deadline situation last week. The deal freezes salaries for two years (followed by 2%, 2.5%, 2.5% increases) and switches new hires to a defined-contribution pension plan from a defined-benefit plan, along with some reductions in vacation time. The vote was 85.7% in favour.
Just for the record, we (the union) didn’t have a problem with the wage offer. The main fights were the proposed pension switch, and a clause that would have allowed the company to unilaterally demote anyone to a lower payscale.
In the end, the pension plan will only apply to new hires (sucks to be them, I guess), and the language of the clause now says the company will make a “reasonable effort” to find a position with equal pay when it wishes to demote someone. Who defines what constitutes “reasonable effort” is a good question.
Some people suspect this is a trojan-horse clause that will allow the company to skirt seniority rules and lay off older, higher-paid employees, by first transferring/demoting them to a different pay category where they will have no seniority.
Now we’ll discover if those suspicions are true.