Chinese-Canadian journalists and Unifor condemn attack against Hong Kong press freedom advocates
TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Staff at Ming Pao Daily Toronto and their union, Unifor, are horrified by the savage daylight cleaver attack on a respected Hong Kong journalist, seen by many as a leading advocate of press freedom and democracy.
"Attacks on members of the press in Hong Kong have been increasing," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "The violence has to stop."
"We join a shocked and outraged global community in condemning the violence against Hong Kong journalists who believe in freedom of the press and its importance to democracy, and urge Hong Kong authorities to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators of these crimes," Dias said.
Kevin Lau, former chief editor of Ming Pao Daily Hong Kong was attacked by cleaver-wielding assailants in broad daylight in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning. According to Hong Kong media, Lau's cleaver wounds were so deep his chest cavity and internal organs were left exposed.
Last month, Lau was unexpectedly removed from his top job at the newspaper and replaced by a Malaysian journalist considered by many to be more pro-Beijing. The dismissal touched off local press freedom protests and led to Ming Pao Hong Kong staffers forming a union.
"We are horrified by this brutal attack that has left Mr. Lau fighting for his life," said Joseph Man Ho Kwok, chair of unionized workers at Ming Pao Toronto, one of Canada's largest Chinese-language daily newspapers.
"As Chinese-Canadian media workers, we understand the importance of a free and independent press. Such a brutal attack on our respected colleague is an attack on us all."
Ming Pao Daily Toronto is one of 34 newspaper and other media outlets in Unifor Local 87-M (Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild), which includes Sing Tao Daily, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun.
Unifor is Canada's largest private-sector union with over 300,000 members, including 13,000 in newspapers, broadcasting and printing.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Staff representative Stuart Laidlaw at
or (cell) 647-385-4054, or Unifor Media Director Howard Law at
or (cell) 416-456-1875, or Ming Pao Unit Chair Joseph Man Ho Kwok at (cell) 416-543-2211
Last Updated (Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:38)
Unifor 87-M asks Sun Media to open its wallet for buyouts
Unifor 87-M is urging Sun Media to encourage voluntary buyouts instead of layoffs in its recently-announced downsizing of 200 jobs.
Sun Media announced Dec. 4 that it is cutting 200 positions across Canada, including 18 unionized positions at various newspapers represented by Unifor Local 87-M in Ontario.
The downsizing was expected to affect the Toronto Sun, London Free Press, Belleville Intelligencer, Chatham Daily News, Sarnia Observer, Stratford Beacon-Herald, Brantford Expositor, Owen Sound Sun-Times, St. Catharines Standard and the Niagara Falls Review.
“The timing of this announcement, coming just three weeks before Christmas, couldn’t have been worse,” said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M. “Our sympathies go out to members who will have the threat of layoff hanging over their head this holiday season.”
Morse urged the company to open its wallet to give employees the incentive, and the means, to leave voluntarily, perhaps allowing them to retire early or to start a new career, thereby saving the jobs of employees who wish to remain.
Morse also expressed concern for the morale and working conditions of employees going forward. In many instances, only one or two people are being cut at a particular newspaper but staffing has already been cut to the point where the loss of two jobs has a major impact, he said.
Unifor Local 87-M, also known as the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, represents 2,600 unionized media employees in Ontario, including employees at the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Metroland and the Hamilton Spectator.
Union seeks alternatives to Toronto Star layoffs
Unifor 87-M, representing Toronto Star employees, expressed shock and dismay over the company's decision Nov. 14 to outsource its advertising department and other employees.
About 80 unionized employees are slated to lose their jobs as a result of the announcement.
“We had no indication this was coming,” said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M. “It has hit our members very hard. Many were reduced to tears.”
Morse is hopeful the union can work with the company to find an alternative to the layoff. Under the company's collective agreement, the union has 90 days to develop an alternative plan, which must be considered by the employer.
"No stone will be left unturned in our efforts to save these jobs," Morse said.
Unifor Local 87-M, Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, represents 2,800 unionized media employees in Ontario, including employees at the Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, London Free Press and Hamilton Spectator.
“We recognize that all newspapers are facing serious economic challenges, but it is beyond understanding to think that anyone else could do a better job in providing compelling media solutions to advertisers than the sales and support staff at the Star who have dedicated their careers to this newspaper,” said Elizabeth Marzari, Toronto Star union unit chair.
Last Updated (Monday, 18 November 2013 10:38)
CEP and CAW join the new Unifor union
After almost two years of talks and preparation, the new Unifor union was born Aug. 31 at a joint founding convention between the Commununications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Canadian Auto Workers.
With the founding of Unifor, CEP Local 87M (SONG) becomes Unifor Local 87M (SONG).
The 3000 members of Local 87M join the 300,000-strong union with 20 sectors, including media, spread across the Canadian economy.
Jerry Dias, a former presidential assistant at the CAW, was elected the first president of the new union.
Read more in the Globe and Mail ...
Last Updated (Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:09)
Veteran activist Martin Mittlestaedt retires
After more than 30 years as a Globe and Mail reporter and union activist, CEP 87M Treasurer Martin Mittlestaedt has opted to take a buyout package and retire.
Mittlestaedt resigned as treasurer of CEP 87M (Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild) and as a Globe reporter at the end of June. The Local Executive appointed Ka Hung Wong from Sing Tao as the interim treasurer at its July 17 meeting.
The Local’s Representative Council must officially elect a new treasurer at its Sept. 18 meeting when the Local will also pay tribute to Mittlestaedt’s long and distinguished role as an activist.
Mittlestaedt began that role shortly after being hired by the Globe and Mail out of university in 1980. He was a key part of organizing drives at the newspaper and soon took a position on both the Globe unit and the Local Executive.
Although he served as Local President from 2002-2004, he is best known for his role as a tough-minded but principled treasurer, both before and after his three-year stint as president.
“Martin’s test as treasurer was, ‘would the members find this expense reasonable?” said former president, and now Local Representative, Brad Honywill. “He could always be relied upon to make smart and defensible decisions, and had the strength of character to withstand the pressures than are inevitably put on someone in that position.”
But, Honywill said, Mittlestaedt was more than a tough-minded treasurer.
“Martin was really the intellectual leader of this Local for much of the past 30 years. He could change the course of a debate with one sentence, simply with the clarity of his thought and the great respect he commanded.”
"It is difficult to put into words how profound an effect Martin had had on SONG 87-M, from frontline activist to leading us from the very top," said Paul Morse, SONG president. "Martin's vision and leadership played a pivotal role in shaping SONG into what it is today – a dynamic, diversified, democratic and responsive media local driven to make life better for our members.
"As a trade unionist, and as a working journalist, he has truly been in a class of his own."
In the short term, Mittlestaedt plans to spend his retirement wading through a decade of unread books and catching up on a myriad of chores that go with parenting four children at his home on Toronto island.
Last Updated (Thursday, 05 September 2013 14:47)
New merged CAW-CEP union to be called Unifor
After five months of researching and testing, the leadership of the CAW and CEP have come up with a new name representing the union's goal of becoming THE union for Canada -- Unifor!
The new name was announced at a press conference May 30.
The Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers began merger talks in 2011. The two unions are expected to formally merge after a joint convention over the Labour Day weekend this year and will march together for the first time at the Toronto Labour Day parade.
Local 87M, also known as the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild (SONG) joined CEP in 1994 after leaving The Newspaper Guild, which was based in the U.S. and is now part of the Communications Workers of America.
Read more in the Toronto Star ...
Last Updated (Thursday, 30 May 2013 11:31)