Unifor Local 2000 members working for Black Press (Lower Mainland) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a tentative agreement with wage increases and improved benefits.

The three-year contract dates back to Jan. 1, 2021 and expires Dec. 31, 2023.

All members hired before Jan. 1, 2021, will receive a $1,250 signing bonus. Wages increases are 2.5%, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, with another 2.5% increase effective Jan. 1, 2023.

One of the Mission sales commission rates will increase from 3.75% to 5%, bringing it more in line with commission rates at other newspapers. The classified clerk base rate on the grid will also increase by roughly $1/hour for each step.

The parties did not make any substantive changes to Letter of Agreement Number 1, which covers important and strong protections for jurisdiction over bargaining unit work. The union’s position was that it was particularly important to keep that language intact, given the parties were undergoing a major arbitration that involved interpreting language in this section – an arbitration the union eventually won. (See link here for the decision.)

Benefits were improved by removing a cap on claim payments that saw only $10 paid back to employees for visits to paramedical practitioners.

New to this agreement is the introduction of Paid Education Leave (PEL), where the employer contributes $1,000 per year to an education fund for union members.

The agreement also included changes to modernize the language dealing with harassment complaints. Several housekeeping changes were made to remove references to the Vantage Way press hall that’s no longer in operation.

Negotiations started in August 2021, then broke off in October when the union sought a mediator with the Labour Board. The parties finally came to a tentative agreement in May 2022.