December 1 has passed and employees of Montreal’s La Presse can finally relax. Last Thursday, the 125-year-old daily finally reached an agreement with its 700 workers, who are represented by several different unions. The bulk of employees (93 percent) approved the five-year concession-laden package, valued at $13 million.
They agreed to boost their current 32-hour, four-day week to a 35-hour, five-day week instead. They also gave up dental insurance and agreed to pay 10 percent more for medical insurance. Although salaries will remain the same, changes will be made to insurance benefits, retirement plan and holiday schedules. For example, employees will have to work up to nine years to qualify for a five-week paid vacation.
Earlier in the year, La Presse threatened to close its doors at the beginning of this month if it didn’t reach an agreement with the unions. Last June, the newspaper axed their Sunday edition to reduce production costs. At the time, publisher Guy Crevier said he hoped to cut $26 million to keep North America’s biggest French daily running.
La Presse is frequently praised for its in-depth coverage of international issues and municipal politics, and its survival offers Canadian journalists a glimmer of hope. Just tighten our belts a bit, guys, we will pull through.