Members of the Surrey Now-Leader voted 100 per cent in favour of ratifying a new memorandum that would see them join the recently ratified Black Press Lower Mainland contract.
The vote was held on Thursday, Feb, 1 at roughly 2:40 p.m. in Surrey. All four members were present to vote, and all four voted yes.
“I think it’s a great deal for the Surrey Now-Leader members,” said National Rep Peter McQuade, who led the negotiations. “They’ve now got the added protection of being under a larger umbrella with the bigger group.
Award winning columnist and author Tom Zytaruk sat on the bargaining committee for Surrey Now-Leader members, along with Jennifer Moreau, secretary-treasurer for Local 2000.
The remaining three members at the Surrey Now-Leader will be joining a larger group of roughly 70 union members from seven different shops and newspapers around the Lower Mainland.
Surrey Now-Leader members were covered by a contract formerly negotiated under previous owner Glacier Media. Moving to the Black Press Lower Mainland contract means reporters at the top of the pay grid will earn $31.74 – that’s $2.57 above their current wage, an instant 8.8 per cent increase. They will also be included in the Unifor Multi Employer Pension Plan, where the company contributes the equivalent of five per cent of members’ wages.
Other major gains include increases to car allowance: from $144 per month to $252 plus a gas allowance indexed to prices in Abbotsford. Their severance went from three weeks per year of service to a maximum of 35 weeks to two weeks per year of service to a maximum of 78 weeks.
Concessions included a cut to sick days, from 14 to seven, and their new benefits plan is no longer 100 per cent covered. Under the new deal, Surrey Now-Leader members will pay 20 per cent of the benefits costs. Another major change is that Editor Beau Simpson will no longer be in the bargaining unit, but he will be allowed to do bargaining unit work while at the Surrey Now-Leader.
The deal is effective Feb. 1, 2018, but pay is backdated to Jan. 1 2018.