The owners of Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group, publishers of the Kelowna Daily Courier and Penticton Herald, issued the Union Section 54 Notice under the BC Labour Code on Thursday, March 26, 2020. In an email from Company, counsel Sean Pihl informed us of upcoming fundamental and substantial changes to the operations and structure of The Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald. Below are excerpts from the letter sent to the Union by Pihl on behalf of the Company.
“We regret to advise that these changes will have a significant impact on the production and distribution of The Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald and will inevitably have an impact on a significant number of bargaining unit employees. With the recent sale of the current operating premises of The Kelowna Daily Courier, as of Tuesday May 26th 2020, The Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald will no longer be printed, assembled and delivered out of the Kelowna location.
Commencing on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, the Kelowna Daily Courier newspaper and the Penticton Herald newspaper will be produced, printed, assembled and distributed through another production facility, yet to be determined by the Employer. Accordingly, these changes in operational structure will result in the permanent closure of the pressroom, thereby making redundant the tasks of assembly, production, distribution and delivery of the newspapers. This will also have a fundamental impact on content generation, advertising and digital production of both The Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald, to an undetermined extent. Unfortunately, these changes will ultimately have a significant impact on the Employer’s staffing requirements.
“It is the Employer’s intention to continue to sell a printed newspaper in the Kelowna and Penticton markets, from Tuesday thru Saturday, on a weekly basis, for the foreseeable future, depending on readership, advertising and market demands. In addition, the Employer intends to continue with a daily on-line digital presence in both the Kelowna and Penticton markets.”
“In consideration of the above noted changes, the Employer wishes to meet with the Union to discuss the anticipated changes and the impact that these changes will have on the current workforce at the Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald. The Employer will endeavour to work with the Union to develop an adjustment plan and address any outstanding grievances that may be impacted by these changes.
The Company has suggested we meet (virtually) Thursday, April 2, 2020. We are awaiting a time but will know by the end of the day Monday.
What does this mean to members?
Under Section 54 notice under the Labour Code, there is a 60-day notice period where the parties meet to work out an adjustment plan. At this point, we do not know much more that what was contained in the letter from the Employer or what was said in the company’s meeting with members on Friday. Members should know that they will be paid during this entire 60-day notice period. We will supply updates when we can after our meetings with the Company.
I know this is an unsettling for folks, but our goal in discussions is to work hard to come up with an adjustment plan that will help members either remaining at the Courier and those that may find themselves leaving the Company. Until then, it is status quo for work until a plan is finalized. Please monitor the website and or talk to your Shop Steward if you have any questions.