Herald Workers Standing Their Ground
May 24, 2016
The NDP caucus was honoured to be invited to the May 19 unveiling of an expanded Local Xpress online news site. It was an opportunity for us to show our continuing support for its publishers–the striking journalists, editors and photographers of the Chronicle Herald, and members of the Halifax Typographical Union.
The strike began in January, after months of utterly unproductive contract negotiations. The bargaining process had been framed by the newspaper’s unwavering demand that the union accept significant wage cuts and longer hours, and that the workers give way on dozens of other protections–significantly, pension benefits and seniority rights for layoffs.
This hardline position displays a profound disrespect both for workers and for the craft of journalism itself.
The response of the striking workers is one to be admired. The enhanced Local Xpress, written and edited by experienced journalists, will go head-to-head with the Herald until the strike is settled. Its news content has been expanded, and the site is developing an advertising base. Online access is free, although readers are welcome to drop a donation at https://www.patreon.com/localxpress?ty=h .
Nova Scotia readers have made the Herald newspapers part of our daily routines for decades. Even after four months, those of us who have cancelled our subscriptions can’t claim we don’t miss it. But something means more to us than our daily fix–that the next Herald we read will have the credibility of being the collective effort of workers whose rights are respected.
We in the NDP continue our boycott of the Herald. We will not advertise, submit press releases or opinion pieces, or respond to requests for interviews from the Herald for the duration of the strike. During the Spring legislative session, our caucus pressed the government repeatedly to use its influence–suspending government advertising and deploying the services of the Department of Labour–to bring the strike to an end. The workers at the Herald have told us many times that the support of the NDP is helping them sustain their efforts.
The Local Xpress joins a marvellous tradition of publications born of struggle in our province–from Joseph Howe’s Novascotian, through J.B. McLachlan’s Nova Scotia Miner, to the alternative press of more recent decades. All have been founded on the understanding that there is a difference between right and wrong, and that when the wrong has the right backed into a corner, history honours those who stand their ground.
In solidarity and hope,
Dave Wilson, MLA Sackville-Cobequid and Labour Critic
Gary Burrill, Leader