Chronicle Herald bosses make counter-offer with deep salary cuts, staff layoffs

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: flickr/Jon S

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Further details of the latest round of meetings between the Halifax Chronicle Herald and its striking editorial union show newspaper bosses want about half of unionized positions eliminated.

The Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), which represents 57 newsroom staff from the Nova Scotia daily, met with representatives of company management last Friday to present a possible collective agreement hammered out with the help of a mediator in the previous days.

The meeting was the first communication between the two parties since a few days into the strike, which began on January 23.

Frank Campbell, HTU vice president, told rabble talks broke off on Wednesday after management rejected the union offer, and extended a counter-offer with an agreement seeking even deeper salary and staff cuts than the one it made in January.

The company's decision to counter-offer also seemed contrary to the agreement between the HTU and the mediator, he said.

"The stuff we presented them was a package deal -- they were supposed to say yes or no."

Campbell said the offer from the HTU addressed three key areas of contention.

It also tabled concessions the union never anticipated it would give.

"We changed direction on the pension plan -- we had a defined benefit pension plan with the company and we made some suggestions about moving into a different plan, which they basically wanted from the start."

"The other was [around] a production hub. We offered different salaries for people starting there." Those working in the hub would undertake similar editing roles to what is already being carried out in the newsroom, however, all positions would fall under new job categories, he said.

"The third thing was language on seniority. We presented them with language that was similar to The Globe and Mail clause, which they kept referring to through all our different talks."

"They decided they didn't like The Globe and Mail clause, they were okay about the pension plan but they didn't want to make their contributions the size we had expected them to be, and they wanted the hub outside the union," Campbell said.

Management wanted changes that would have resulted in 26 of HTU's members being laid off, and an hourly pay rate reduction of 20 per cent. The proposed layoffs include 18 senior editing positions. It is not known where the remaining eight layoffs would have come from, Campbell said.

This would leave 31 members -- reducing the current size of the union by 46 per cent.

Before the strike, the HTU had 61 members, however four people have since taken up other employment.

Following the unsuccessful negotiations, the HTU -- local 30130 of the Communications Workers of America-Canada -- held a vote on Thursday, which resulted in unanimous membership support for the bargaining team, Campbell said.

"Despite being on strike for four months, everybody is still in the same corner.

"We have no other real choice unless we accept a company proposal that is worse than the one we were presented four months ago," he said.

Management at the Chronicle Herald, which has brought on replacement newsroom workers during the strike, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Meanwhile, Local Xpress, the HTU's online news outlet set up during the strike, continues to grow. About two weeks ago, the union announced it had partnered with digital media company Village Media to expand the site. Businesses can now advertise with Local Xpress, and it features national news, weather forecasts and obituaries.

No further plans for negotiations have been made.


Teuila Fuatai is a recent transplant to Canada from Auckland, New Zealand. She settled in Toronto in September following a five-month travel stint around the United States. In New Zealand, she worked as a general news reporter for the New Zealand Herald and APNZ News Service for four years after studying accounting, communication and politics at the University of Otago. As a student, she had her own radio show on the local university station and wrote for the student magazine. She is rabble's labour beat reporter this year.

Photo: flickr/Jon S


Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.