February 9, 2000
Dear CEP and GCIU members in Calgary:
The members of the North Okanagan Labour Council recognize the importance of the strike at the Calgary Herald and thank you all for leading the fight to preserve reasonable labour standards in this country.
The labour dispute at the Calgary Herald is one of the most important this country has seen in many years and it is a fight, we are convinced, you will ultimately win.
Conrad Black's attempt to eliminate seniority clauses and journalistic independence, among other things, is an unprecedented attack on accepted labour and journalism standards in Canada.
It is, we believe, a fight he intends take to his other papers in future - unless he can be stopped in Calgary.
And because of your efforts, Conrad Black is not winning this fight.
Even in a jurisdiction with some of the weakest labour laws in the country, Black has more than met his match in a group of employees determined to preserve decent working conditions and journalistic independence.
It should be obvious to Mr. Black and his managers by now that they are not going to be permitted to conduct layoffs without some rules to ensure fairness, nor turn the Herald into a mouthpiece for the business community.
We understand it is a tough strike in Calgary and some workers have crossed the picket line. However, the solidarity shown by the rest of you sets a tremendous example for newspaper workers, and other union members, across the country.
We hope that your efforts will ultimately bring you a fair contract and the decent working conditions you deserve.
We do know your efforts will benefit the employees at all the other newspapers and many other worksites around the country.
As newspaper employees in particular see how the Calgary Herald workers are standing up for themselves in a province that's hardly known as union-friendly, they will become more resolved to stand up for their rights, too.
And perhaps, as the Hollinger empire realizes it can't push around and mistreat employees in a jurisdiction with weak labour laws, it may be less likely to make such unacceptable contract offers at its other papers.
Your solidarity is an terrific example for workers across the country and please know that you have friends and supporters all over Canada and, especially, in the Okanagan.
If there is anything we can do to help, please don't hesitate to call on us.
North Okanagan Labour Council