News Leader strike drags on into second week

Striking News Leader Pictorial staff were joined on the picket line in Duncan on Monday afternoon by dozens of supporters.

The newspaper’s union staff, represented by Unifor Local 2000, went on strike last week for the first time in their history.

The show of support meant a lot to those who remain off the job.

"We’ve been feeling the love, getting a lot of support from your random people that honk, and stuff like that but a lot of our union members and people from affiliated unions have come and joined us all week and it’s been great," said News Leader employee Eric Morten.

National Unifor representative Peter McQuade said they put a proposal to Black Press management at a meeting last Tuesday, but have heard nothing since.

"This is exactly what we need to bolster the members’ spirits," he said of the support shown at the rally Tuesday. "Most of the members here have never been on strike before."

The strike centers around blocking the implementation of a twotier wage system.

Employees’ wages increase over time through a classification system.

Management is trying to get rid of the top wage classifications for any new employees coming in, McQuade said.

"It’s a bad way to go," Morten said. "See the guy waving the flag over there? That’s my son. It’s bad for him and it’s bad for any other kid living in this Valley, who wants to come in and be in the industry."

"Basically what it does is it serves to depress wages across the board," he said. "Because if good jobs don’t pay well, what are bad jobs going to pay?" The News Leader Pictorial’s editor and publisher were not in the building Monday to comment.

Randy Blair of Black Press told CHEK News last week that unionized employees at the paper enjoy "a very good wage rate for this market area," and that it’s important for the company to stay competitive.

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