Home Workplace Legislation/Press Releases Union leaders vow legal fight as Metroland Media shuts down 70 newspapers and lays off over 600 workers

Union leaders vow legal fight as Metroland Media shuts down 70 newspapers and lays off over 600 workers

by HR Law Canada

Last week, NordStar’s Metroland Media announced the shutdown of 70 community newspaper print editions and the layoffs of 605 workers.

This includes 106 unionized members of Unifor Local 87-M. The media company has also sought bankruptcy protection, blindsiding the union and stating that it will not honor its previous agreements on termination severance, deferred salary payments, or post-retirement benefits.

“The gloves are off,” declared Carleen Finch, president of Unifor Local 87-M. “We will use every and all legal actions at our disposal to fight this inhumane treatment of our members, many of whom spent their whole careers at their paper serving their communities.”

Finch expressed a profound sense of betrayal. “After months of bargaining in good faith and reaching agreements, Metroland is throwing so many of us out of work without a word of notice. What’s worse is that the company has told us it will not pay contractually obligated severances, deferred salaries, or retirement benefits such as prescription drugs that many retirees rely on.”

The one piece of reassurance for employees and retirees is that their pensions will not be affected. The union had previously negotiated the merger of employer pension plans into the financially secure Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) public pension plan.

Mark Newman, chair of the union members at Hamilton Community News, which is one of the papers affected by the layoffs, expressed his dismay. “I am shocked and appalled that the company would do this to us after we bargained in good faith. Local news gathering is going to die right across southern Ontario as a result of this action by Metroland, and to not pay severance to dedicated journalists who have worked hard for decades is despicable.”

Unifor Local 87-M represents media and knowledge workers across southern Ontario, including employees at large daily newspapers like the Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Sun. Unifor is Canada’s largest private-sector union, representing more than 315,000 members across all sectors of the economy.

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