Ming Pao workers fight for first contract at Toronto newspaper: Members of CEP Local 87-M went on strike September 21st against Ming Pao, a large Chinese language newspaper in Toronto, in what has become a tough fight over basic union rights. The 135 members have been in a legal strike position since last week, but kept talking in hopes of averting a walkout. The main issues-improving wages, benefits and working conditions-have been overshadowed by the company’s aggressive approach to bargaining. The vast majority of staff at the paper, reporters and sales staff included, earn between minimum wage and $14 an hour. Only a few reporters and sales reps earn a competitive wage.
The Ming Pao offices and picket line are at 1355 Huntingwood Drive (Brimley and Sheppard)
Last spring, the company fired seven union activists in what it called a layoff. Three more were targeted in July. Undeterred, the workers from editorial, advertising, the pressroom, pre-press and administration have continued to lead the fight for a first contract while your union fights to get their jobs back.
Company bulletins through the summer compared union supporters to communists and drug addicts. At the bargaining table, the company proposed freezing already-low wages, and offered no assurances that sales staff won’t lose their best accounts once a contract is signed. Workers voted 87 per cent to go on strike. Unit chair Simon Sung, a graphic artist among those fired, has taken the fight to the community, drumming up support through billboards and radio spots aimed at the local Chinese community and involving the Toronto Labour. Council and other unions representing new Canadians in the fight. Talks have gone on since last January. During last year’s organizing drive, management devoted a large part of the paper’s front page to an attack on the union, angering newsroom staff, who work hard to put out a professional publication.
Ming Pao is part of a profitable international media conglomerate based in Hong Kong. It publishes in Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver. It is a subsidiary of Media Chinese International, which publishes 15 editions of five different newspapers around the world with a total circulation of more than one million. It also has two free dailies in the U.S., 15 magazines and receives more than 500 million hits a month to its many web sites. CEP Local 87-M, now represents Toronto’s three dominant Chinese language newspapers, having also formed unions at Sing Tao Daily in 2000 and World Journal in 2006.
The picket line is up 24/7 and any support that you can give our members, many of whom came to Canada in search of a better life, as they fight for the rights we take for granted, would be appreciated.
CEP Ontario Region Administrative Vice President