June 28, 2009 / 3:18 AM / in 8 years

Union workers reject offer by Globe paper

TORONTO (Reuters) - Unionized workers at The Globe and Mail overwhelmingly rejected what the Canadian newspaper said was its final contract offer, the union said on Saturday, but the two sides will meet again on Tuesday.

Union members, including journalists, sales staff and circulation workers, voted 260-32 to reject the offer, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union said in a statement.

The Globe and Mail, a division of CTVglobemedia, said on Friday it told workers it would implement the terms of its offer on July 1. The current contract expires a day earlier.

It said it expected to continue publishing the paper and updating its websites in the event of a strike or lockout.

But after the Saturday vote, the union said the paper agreed to resume talks on Tuesday.

A Globe spokeswoman confirmed that the two sides would meet again on Tuesday.

“The purpose is to hear the union response to management’s proposal,” the spokeswoman, Nancy Evans, said by email.

The union said Globe workers were prepared for a strike if necessary. The union said its members at the newspaper have never gone out on strike in its almost 60-year history.

The union, which represents 450 workers at the national paper, said the paper’s offer included pension benefits cuts of up to 50 percent; salary reductions in some wage categories; a general two-year wage freeze for all employees; longer work days and a longer work week.

The Globe said on Friday it had adjusted its position and is now offering to allow current employees to stay on a defined benefit pension system, though with higher contributions. The company wants others to move to a defined employee-contribution plan.

Many newspapers and media companies have seen their fortunes turn sour as the economy went into recession and advertisers slashed spending.

To cope with the downturn, media groups have laid off staff and sought salary, benefit and other concessions from their remaining employees.

The Globe has not been immune. In January, it revealed plans to cut about 80 jobs through layoffs and voluntary severance.

The union said it was sensitive to the newspaper’s plight and that it was willing to make sacrifices to help the Globe weather the tough times. It was it was willing to accept a wage freeze. “But we are not prepared to accept the gutting of our pension plan,” said Sue Andrew, the chair of the union’s Globe unit.

CTVglobemedia is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan; Torstar Corp, which publishes the Toronto Star newspaper; BCE Inc, parent of Bell Canada; and the Woodbridge Co, an investment vehicle for Canada’s billionaire Thomson family. Woodbridge is also the biggest shareholder of Thomson Reuters.

The company’s other media properties include the national CTV television network, and specialty channels Business News Network and MuchMedia.

Editing by Will Dunham

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