Unifor Local 2000 is sad to see the loss of yet another Lower Mainland community paper.
Friday was the last day of work for people at the Surrey Leader, a paper that’s been publishing since 1929.
“It’s distressing to lose members who are working in a number of areas and contributing to their communities through their newspaper. Part of it is through the voice of journalism, but the sales reps are also helping people’s businesses survive in the community,” said Rob Munro, Vice-President of Unifor Local 2000.
Black Press announced the news as exciting and is characterizing it as a consolidation, rather than a closure. However, only a few people will move from the Surrey Leader to the Surrey NOW. The new publication will be called The Surrey Now News Leader, (update: Black Press has shortened the title to Now-Leader), and the first publication date is April 5. The Leader’s last edition is today, Friday, March 31, 2017.
The company’s move means there’s only one voice left in the community, said Munro.
“They had lost a whole bunch of revenue from national advertisers, and they had to do something to keep operating. It’s sad. It’s devastating for the people losing their jobs, some of them for more than 20 years,” Munro said.
Black Press bought the Surrey NOW from competitor Glacier Media in March 2015. Both papers are unionized and represented by Unifor Local 2000, but the Surrey Leader has both editorial staff and salespeople in the union. The Surrey NOW has only reporters in the union.
The move also means fewer papers showing up on people’s doorstops. The Surrey Leader was publishing twice a week, and the Surrey NOW comes out once a week. The new combined paper will publish twice a week.
In all, seven people will lose their jobs: six union members and one non-union editor. One reporter will move over to the Surrey NOW office and retain union status. Three sales staff will also move to the NOW but will lose their union status in the process.
Munro said the union was able to negotiate enhanced severance and retraining allowances for those facing layoffs.
“But it’s still going to be extremely difficult for some of these people to find good jobs out there,” he added.
The loss of the Surrey Leader comes on the heels of the company’s move to layoff 10 creative services staff. Black Press is shipping their jobs to non-union folks at a company subsidiary in the Everett, Washington.
Unifor Local 2000 represents more than 800 members in B.C., mostly working in newspapers. For more comments, call Munro at 250-212-9979.