Trading places as opposed to changing faces is the story of the Montreal Newspaper Guild executive going into 2013 and beyond.
Ron Carroll, who has served as Secretary for the past five years, was recently acclaimed as President, replacing the long-serving Mona Leroux, who moves into the Vice-President’s chair.
“After quite a few years of people doing the same thing, we wanted to change things up and give people new tasks,” says Carroll. “The executive works really well together as a team.”
Rounding out the table officers lineup, John Mahoney moves from Chair of the Main unit to become Secretary, while Stanley Kawai remains as Treasurer.
Moving into or remaining in Chair positions are Debbie Hughes (Advertising), Janet Murphy (Business Office), Walter Batista (Classified), and Debbie Anderson (EDP). Michelle Lalonde is the Editorial delegate for the Main unit.
Carroll, who joined The Gazette as a copy editor 25 years ago when there were about 1,000 employees, is now head of one of the oldest newspaper guilds in Canada. Its membership has shrunk to 189 as the newspaper over the past two decades reduced its workforce to about 250.
The main challenge facing the MNG over the next three to five years, says Carroll, is the “constant reduction in newspaper quality” as jobs are cut or outsourced.
Postmedia’s agenda clearly is to reduce what it calls legacy costs — salaries, benefits and pensions — so the Guild has to try to come up with options. “We must maintain flexibility to protect jobs, but negotiating new contracts can’t be a one-way street in terms of concessions,” says Carroll.
The membership, he says, is concerned about the financial health of Postmedia, which recently received approval to extend from five to 10 years its repayment of a pension shortfall.
Beyond that, “many of the younger people in their 30s are worried about the future of the news industry,” he notes. “We are seeing big changes, not every year, but every month or week.”
Carroll would like to see more involvement of the membership in union matters. “They need to know what we do, beyond negotiating contracts. I want to get them more educated about what unions do,” by having more one-on-one meetings and sending emails to members at home.