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This article was published 14/4/2013 (2676 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THERE will be five years of labour peace at the Winnipeg Free Press.
On Sunday, unionized employees overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract with the company.
The current five-year deal was set to expire at the end of June.
Free Press publisher Bob Cox acknowledged a more collaborative bargaining approach between the union and the company in quickly reaching a new deal.
"We felt it was important to discuss real issues in the newspaper business," said Cox. "We wanted them to be a part of the process. They came along, listened and I think it was very positive, and a lot better than previous negotiations as a result.
"These contracts provide us with a lot of stability and are a good foundation to go forward with in the newspaper industry," Cox said.
The new five-year deal, taking effect July 1, includes a wage freeze for all unionized employees in the first year, with a three per cent wage increase over the remaining years.
"This is the first time we have ever achieved a contract before the current contract expires," said Aldo Santin, president of CEP Local 191, which represents about 1,000 people, including carriers, who work for the Free Press.
"This contract is a realistic one in these challenging times for newspapers, but recognizes that our members and newspapers have a strong future."
Although there were no wage concessions for current employees, new employees will be hired at lower rates, according to the deal. Employees will also pay increased pension contributions to offset unfunded liability issues with the company's plan, Santin said.
Carriers will see a modest rise in compensation, and new language was added to protect the carriers if the Free Press opts for contracting out delivery.
Inside workers voted 91 per cent in favour and carriers 70 per cent in favour.
"This is not a contract we would ever have considered in the past, but, given the uncertainties surrounding the newspaper industry, particularly the Free Press, it is a contract we are prepared to accept at this time," Santin said.
In 2008, unionized Free Press workers went on a strike that lasted 16 days.
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