Employees in The Gazette’s editorial department (including myself) voted 63-20 (76%) on Sunday afternoon in favour of a three-year labour contract with 1.5% yearly salary increases (plus a signing bonus equivalent to 1.5% of wages during the previous year).
Turnout was 76% of the 109 editorial employees.
The workers have been without a contract since the summer of 2008, so wages have been frozen since then. The increases (besides the signing bonus) apply to the three years following ratification, up to 2014.
Among the features of the new contract:
- Reporters can be asked to shoot video without additional compensation.
- Permanent part-timers will have pro-rated paid vacation, as well as a guaranteed two consecutive days off a week.
- Photographers get an increased car allowance, adjusted based on gas prices. Permanent photographers are also protected against layoff during the contract as a result of reporters shooting video.
- Shift differentials (paid to employees for each shift worked before 7 am or after 7pm) increase from $8 to $12
The contract also included controversial language that redefines how seniority is calculated. Previously, many workers in editorial were given leave or alternate work arrangements (working fewer days a week) on the understanding that their seniority would not be affected. A letter of understanding with the new contract means time worked after May 2007 will be calculated based on actual days worked.
The Gazette has also agreed to post three new permanent full-time positions in the editorial department: two reporters and an online copy editor. This measure is designed to cut down on the numbers of “permatemps” who have worked non-stop but don’t yet enjoy the benefits of permanent status. Some have been working for up to nine years. (UPDATE April 22: City reporter Max Harrold, business/tech reporter Jason Madger and sports/online copy editor Kevin Mio have been made full-time permanent as of May 8.)
The editorial department voted in January 2009 against a contract that called for larger union concessions.
Three other smaller departments also voted on contract offers (with similar provisions for salary and benefits):
- The IT department voted unanimously (4-0) in favour
- The Reader Sales and Service department voted 7-4 (64%) in favour
- The Business department voted unanimously (0-4) against their contract. They return to the bargaining table.