On January 23rd of this year, the 61 members of the Halifax Typographical Union’s newsroom unit went on strike for a fair deal from the Halifax Chronicle Herald newspaper.
While the picket lines remain up, the members still wanted to tell stories, take photos, and keep Nova Scotians informed of news that matters to them.
They formed an online-only news site called Local Xpress, staffed by volunteers and funded by parent union CWA Canada and the HTU.
When the strike action was launched, Chronicle Herald management hired scab labour, and told freelance contributors they could still write for the paper. Many declined that offer, and some of them took a further step and joined CMG Freelance, a branch created to serve the needs of independent freelance workers as well as those at CBC. These freelancers are all members of the Canadian Media Guild, a local of CWA Canada.
When they joined, CMG Freelance, CWA Canada, and the HTU all agreed that those members choosing to forgo income from the Chronicle Herald could earn some money by submitting stories to Local Express.
It’s the first time that CMG Freelance has been able to offer support to members losing work because of a strike.
“It’s why we’re here,” says Don Genova, president of CMG Freelance. “We know that freelance journalists need several levels of support, so we help with professional development, advice on contracts and negotiations, spread the word about freelance opportunities, offer access to purchasing health care benefits at a reasonable price, and in this case, provide some financial support to those who are upholding the idea of fair pay for their colleagues at HTU.”
Pat Lee is one of the CMG Freelance members writing for Local Express. Lee worked on staff at the Herald for 26 years as a reporter, editor and columnist. She took a buyout in 2014 but continued writing her pet column for the paper on a freelance basis.
“When the current employees went on strike, I felt I could not in good conscience cross the picket line electronically by still submitting my column, so I stopped when the strike started,” Lee told Story Board via email this week.
Lee worked with many of the now-striking workers during her entire career at the paper. She said she supports their effort to collectively negotiate a fair contract with their employer.
“To continue to write for the paper at this time would have been an insult to them and that effort,” she said.
Lee’s pet column now appears twice a month in Local Express.
As of the end of April, no end to the strike is in sight, even though the HTU has offered to make many concessions to get the Chronicle Herald back to the bargaining table.
To check out what Local Xpress is publishing, visit: http://www.localxpress.ca/.
POSTED IN: CMG news
TAGS: Chronicle Herald