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Unifor fights for Metroland workers amidst company restructuring


Unifor is standing strong with Metroland workers after the community newspaper publisher announced it was stopping the presses on 70 local papers while seeking a form of bankruptcy protection and undergoing restructuring.


“This is devastating for our members, who have given years of dedication to this company,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.


“Workers who took a package, to save jobs for a younger generation, are left financially precarious. Workers who deserve severance will see pennies on the dollar. On top of that 70 communities are left without a local newspaper. This is disgraceful.”


As of Sept. 15, Metroland Media Group and Quebec-based Métro Média, owned by parent company Nordstar Capital LP, owed $70.8-million in debt to unsecured creditors. 


Under the terms of the restructuring proposal, laid-off employees would receive an amount equivalent to what would be provided under the federal government's Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP), up to a maximum of $8,278. 


In addition, the company proposes employees would also get 13 cents on the dollar for whatever they're owed in additional severance. There is also a possibility workers would receive 26 cents on the dollar instead of 13 cents, if they are approved to apply for WEPP.


In September, Nordstar Capital LP said it intended to put its regional newspaper business into bankruptcy protection, cutting 605 jobs and switching more than 70 of its weekly papers into digital-only. 


The job losses impact 68 of Metroland's 200 journalists, and about 100 unionized members of Unifor Local 87-M.


The proposed payments are subject to the approval of creditors at an upcoming meeting on November 14. Under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, if creditors vote against the proposal, the company is deemed automatically bankrupt. 


“We are extremely disappointed with the proposal and are not letting Metroland off the hook without a fight,” said Unifor Local 87-M President Carleen Finch. 


“We will be taking further action to help support of our members, who deserve respect.”


Follow Media Action Plan for updates.

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