Unifor negotiates enhanced severance for Hamilton Spectator inserters

Unifor Local 87-M has negotiated an enhanced severance, benefits and job search assistance package for 72 members whose jobs are being eliminated in the closure of the Hamilton Spectator’s print and inserting centre.

“These part-time inserters are dedicated employees and they work really hard for the company,”  said Carleen Finch, union chair at the Hamilton Spectator. “So, it’s heart wrenching, it really is, but I’m happy we were able to get them better severance and benefits than they would have received otherwise.”

The inserters, some of them who have been with the company for their entire working careers, will get 3.5 weeks of severance for every year of service up to a maximum of 78 weeks. They will also get a $1 an hour increase, retroactive to January 1st and their severance will be paid out at this higher hourly rate.

Anyone who has been with the company for less than 10 years can take this as a lump-sum payment, and those with more than 10 years of service can take a salary continuance, where they will continue to receive pension and benefits for up to a year.

The minimum severance is $1,500 for newer employees, and for employees hired before December 2017 the minimum threshold is $2,700.

The company is also bringing in representatives from the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) defined benefit pension plan to go over options for affected staff. The Hamilton Spectator will provide job search assistance at work.

“Torstar’s decision to close the Hamilton Spectator print and inserting centre is devastating,” said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M. “Fortunately, we were able to reach a closure agreement that gives our members more, but, at the end of the day, they are all losing their jobs and that hurts.”

Canadians must understand the impact that partial or whole closures of local news operations will have on their communities, Morse said.

“Local news is like a part of the immune system that seeks out and identifies bad invaders of the body politic,” he said. “If nothing is left to trigger society’s immune response, then our democracy dies from within.”