Chronicle Herald buys all Atlantic Canadian Transcontinental papers
The owners of a Nova Scotia newspaper whose unionized journalists have been on strike for more than a year announced Thursday it is buying more than two dozen Atlantic Canadian papers owned by Transcontinental Inc.
The Chronicle Herald, which is headquartered in Halifax and is the country’s oldest independently owned newspaper, has relied on reporters who have crossed the picket line for more than 14 months while its unionized newsroom employees have been on strike.
All of Transcontinental’s news outlets in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador have been sold to SaltWire Network Inc., a newly created media group that publishes the Chronicle Herald.
The sale includes 28 publications (including one online) on the East Coast, but Transcontinental said in the release that it will retain two printing plants in the region including the Halifax plant on Ragged Lake Boulevard and one in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I.
It also said 650 Transcontinental employees are part of the transaction and will receive offers from SaltWire. According to a story posted on the Chronicle Herald website Thursday, Chronicle Herald president Mark Lever, said all of those employees will be offered positions “in the same capacity with the same salary and same benefits that they have now.”
Deal contrary to a business ‘crying poor’
Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union — which represents 54 Chronicle Herald reporters, photographers, editors and support staff on strike — told CBC’s Maritime Noon that the company’s new purchase is contrary to a business “crying poor for 15 months, if not longer.”
Talks between the union and the newspaper have broken off a number of times, despite concessions offered by the striking employees. Lever has said his paper faces a crunch in a changing media landscape.
If anything, Bulmer said, she thought today’s announcement would be Transcontinental’s purchase of a struggling Chronicle Herald.
“The Herald based its bargaining strategy on pleading poverty, yet even when we agreed to major concessions, it wasn’t enough for them,” said Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the national union that represents the HTU, in a news release.
Bulmer said the announcement has left the union with a number of questions for Lever:
“Are we still in limbo? What are the legalities of it? Have they been bargaining in bad faith all along? If they had intended on acquiring such a large portion of the Atlantic provinces other newspapers, how could they possibly say they needed all the concessions from us?” said Bulmer.
“At some point they’re going to have to sit down across from us and make a deal.”
She said the union is consulting legal experts on how to proceed.
CBC News has reached out to Lever and the Chronicle Herald for comment.
Transcontinental has sold a number of assets in the last few years.
The following newspapers are part of the sale:
- The Advertiser, Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.
- Amherst News, N.S.
- The Annapolis Valley Register, N.S.
- The Aurora, Labrador, N.L.
- The Beacon, Gander, N.L.
- Cape Breton Post, N.S.
- The Citizen Record, Amherst, N.S.
- Colchester Weekly News, N.S.
- The Compass, Carbonear, N.L.
- The Guardian, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
- The Gulf News, Port aux Basques, N.L.
- The Journal-Pioneer, Summerside, P.E.I.
- The Labradorian, Labrador, N.L.
- The News, New Glasgow, N.S.
- The Northern Pen, St. Anthony, N.L.
- The Nor’wester, Springdale, N.L.
- The Packet, Clarenville, N.L.
- The Pilot, Lewisporte, N.L.
- The Queens County Advance, N.S.
- Sackville Tribune Post, N.B.
- The Southern Gazette, Marystown, N.L.
- The Telegram, St. John’s, N.L.
- The Tri-County Extra, N.S.
- The Tri-County Vanguard, N.S.
- Truro Daily News, N.S.
- Valley Journal Advertiser, N.S.
- The Western Star, Corner Brook, N.L
- The www.novanewsnow.com website (digital-only) is also included in the transaction
The CBC’s Canadian Media Guild belongs to the same parent union as the striking Herald employees, CWA Canada.