TORONTO- Metroland Media, owned and controlled by Jordan Bitove’s Nordstar, is betraying workers and leaving an information vacuum in many communities by ending the print publication of 70 of weekly community newspapers and shuttering its flyer delivery business.
“This is devastating. Devastating for these media workers. Devastating for local news. Devastating for the communities who depend on that local news and devastating for the fabric of our democracy,” says Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The horrible irony of this announcement happening on World Democracy Day only deepens our awareness of what this loss will mean. As a former journalist myself, it’s days like these that weigh heavy on my heart and mind.”
Metroland Media provided no notice of the layoffs to the local union. Local leadership are learning the details as multiple, separate statements are issued from the company.
“We are disgusted and deeply offended by this news and the way in which it has been shared with the union and its members,” said Carleen Finch, President of Local 87-M. “We have been in weekly meetings with Metroland and weren’t even given the benefit of a conversation before these voice memos and emails started landing in workers’ inboxes.”
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of four months of union-company discussions to merge 13 collective agreements into one agreement with concessions designed to help keep the operation running. The company is in violation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) it signed with the union on May 9, 2023 which stipulates there will be no loss of bargaining unit jobs up to and including December 31, 2023.
In addition to the loss of jobs, members have been notified that anyone on a voluntary departure agreement will see their severance payments end today, and post-retirement benefits will end effective September 30.
“This announcement will throw some families into a desperate situation,” said Finch. “We are determined as a union to help workers navigate their next steps, especially in light of the cruel and careless way the employer has dumped this on their laps.”
Unifor continues to promote local news as something corporations and governments must work together to protect and strengthen. The union supported the implementation of Bill C-18, designed to take a share of the massive revenues generated on social media platforms by Canadian news content and put it back into the news organizations that produce it.
Unifor represents 104 of the workers who were notified that yesterday’s paper would be the last and that their employment will end today.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.