Tag Archives: Winnipeg Free Press

The Free Press ain’t free

Rumours, reported by the CBC last week, that the Winnipeg Free Press would cut its Sunday edition and simultaneously come out with a newsstand-only Sunday tabloid have turned out to be exactly true.

Friday’s paper contained a headline noting the most important part of the story: “More in Saturday Free Press“!

Yeah. So the newspaper will, starting Oct. 31/Nov. 1, be moving some Sunday regular features (i.e. comics) to the Saturday paper, and the new Sunday tabloid (called “On7“) will be newsstand-only to save on the cost of home delivery (the FP story even suggests carriers will welcome this news because they’d get to sleep in once a week).

What the story doesn’t say is that seven-day subscription rates, now that they have become six-day subscription rates, won’t change. On7 will be $1 or $1.25 an issue.

It’s true that La Presse (Sundays) and the Victoria Times-Colonist (Mondays) have cut a day off the week, and the National Post did so temporarily this summer (Mondays). But none of those was paired with a new product that they refused to deliver to home subscribers.

As the union told the CBC: “If you are a seven-day home subscriber, you will have to go out and buy this product. I would be a little p-o’d at that.”

One organization that’s not pissed off is the competition, the Winnipeg Sun. Their article on the subject points out that the Sun will be the only paper with home delivery on Sundays, offers quotes from the Sun’s publisher saying if they subscribe to his paper, “after a week or two I’ll bet they won’t miss their old paper at all”, and even helpfully offers the phone number of their circulation department.

Stay classy, Sun.

Strike ends at Winnipeg Free Press

Workers at the Winnipeg Free Press, who have been on strike for two weeks now, last night voted to approve a new contract presented by their employer. Details are a bit sketchy, but the wage increases are 2% a year, with 1.5% during the final 9 months. The employer apparently also took the merging of newsroom jobs off the table.

The union executive didn’t recommend the contract to its members (it didn’t recommend against it either, saying it needed a mandate from members before it could go further). But the union tells CP it thinks it got a fair deal. (More coverage from Reuters and UPI)

The FreePressOnStrike.com website has been shut down, and the Free Press will be published again starting tomorrow.

Welcome back.

Free Press dispute gets nasty

(Not that I’ve ever witnessed a labour disruption that didn’t get tense)

Normally, in a show of good faith and to allow the bargaining process to proceed, both sides of a labour negotiation will keep the details of what’s said during talks to themselves. The union will advise its membership of any major issues, as well as give a general idea how talks are going, but that’s about it.

When the door closes and workers are on strike or lockout, that changes. It usually starts with the union, which decides to negotiate through the media. Inevitably, the employer responds to correct any “fals” or “misleading” statements that sully its good name.

The Winnipeg Free Press is on that course. Workers went on strike last week and quickly started up a competing news website at freepressonstrike.com, which includes news about the strike itself.

Yesterday, the Free Press (which can’t put out a newspaper and is instead just posting updates to its website) issued a statement correcting the record and offering its side of the dispute. Its main argument is that workers are paid well (better than at other papers) and get good benefits (like sick leave and holidays and stuff!). That statement led to stories from Canadian Press and CBC (the latter also talks about some silliness involving pork).

The striking workers countered with their own statement that many workers are paid at or near (or even below) minimum wage, and that it has been open and honest, posting offers on its website for all to see.

Unfortunately, both statements make both sides look childish in this process, and are good indications for why this kind of thing is normally not done. Both sides essentially accuse the other of being unreasonable and refusing to negotiate. It’s like two three-year-olds complaining to their mother that the other one is being mean.

Meanwhile, talks resumed this morning, as the union issued another statement that it had begun picketing a non-union shop that was distributing flyers for the FP (the publisher does not understand why a union on strike would have a problem with that?)

Here’s hoping those talks go well.


Taking a page from the Journal de Québec workers who started their own publication when they were locked out, the striking workers at the Winnipeg Free Press have started up their own website at freepressonstrike.com with local news.

It includes an FAQ as well as embarrassing coverage of Free Press owner FP Newspapers (though pointing out that your employer is bleeding money doesn’t sound like it will get the public on your side when you demand more money)

(via Michel Dumais)