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Temporary pay cuts proposed at Winnipeg Free Press, union to vote over weekend

WINNIPEG — Unionized workers of the Winnipeg Free Press and associated businesses will vote Sunday on a "emergency, temporary" wage cut requested by the newspaper's publisher, who says the publication needs the financial flexibility to survive a collapse in advertising revenue since the COVID-19 crisis took hold.

The tentative proposal would see rates reduced for the higher-paid Tier 1 group of employees by 20 per cent and 12 per cent for Tier 2 employees, with a floor preventing anybody from being paid less than minimum wage.

The cuts would also apply to management and non-union staff, with the exception of a 50-per-cent reduction for Free Press publisher Bob Cox.

Unifor representative Paul McKie says he held a conference call with elected leaders of Local 191 to discuss the proposed agreement negotiated by the union and the company's management.

The pay reductions are to begin Monday — subject to an online ratification vote through a secure service for about 300 members that Unifor will hold from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

The cuts will initially last for two weeks, when the two sides will review the situation.

McKie says the elected leaders for the local members didn't raise objections to the negotiated agreement because they share the newspaper's desire to continue publishing a printed newspaper six days a week, as well as the online edition published every day.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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