Windsor Star layoffs and closure threatens local news coverage

WINDSOR, ON, Jan. 31, 2023 /CNW/ – Postmedia’s decision to close the Windsor Star’s Starway Printing Plant brings an end to more than a century of daily print newspaper publishing in Windsor and comes at the cost of eliminating roughly 75 media jobs in the city, say unions Unifor and CWA Canada.

"Shutting down the local printing press and trucking the papers 350 kms. down the highway from Toronto every day makes no common sense and needs to be reconsidered," said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. "We will support our media members through this restructuring storm and fight alongside them to demand the respect they deserve from Postmedia."

Martin O’Hanlon, the President of CWA Canada, which represents inserter positions at the Windsor Star, said the cuts are "bad for the newspaper, bad for the community, bad for journalism, and bad for democracy."

"We urge Postmedia to reconsider and look at ways to keep these jobs here in Windsor," he said.

Workers became aware of Postmedia’s new measures from an internal memo sent hours before a virtual town hall meeting on Jan. 18. The following week, in a townhall meeting for Postmedia editorial staff, led by Gerry Nott, the media company’s senior vice-president of editorial, workers were informed that the restructuring plan includes laying off 11% of its roughly 650 editorial staff across the chain. Official notice of the Windsor plant closure was received Jan. 27.

The loss of editorial positions will result in the loss of trained, experienced professionals sharing the community’s stories, holding governments, politicians and institutions to account and shining a light on the critical issues of the day.

"This is devastating for the families who are now facing a job loss that impacts their livelihood, careers and mental health," said Julie Kotsis, Unifor Media Council Chair. "Democracy truly depends on a vibrant and trusted press and it’s clear Postmedia needs to invest in our communities."

A big part of the issue of newsrooms shrinking across North America – including thousands of Canadian journalism jobs being culled in recent years – is because advertising revenue that once paid 80 to 90% of the cost of local news has been funneled to Google and Facebook. But they don’t produce any news. The remaining online ad revenue is cheap: a windfall for ad buyers, but bad for news outlets. The result is diminished news coverage or closures of news outlets.

Unifor has been part of an active campaign to make big tech companies pay their fair share with Bill C-18.

The Windsor Star has served the community uninterrupted going back to its predecessors, The Windsor Record, in 1888.

The reach of the Star for the size of Windsor and Essex County is about 500,000 people and with projected economic and population growth expected in the coming years, the role of a daily newspaper is essential now and in the future.

"Even though the Windsor Star will continue to publish online, we will no longer print a newspaper in Windsor – after 135 years," said Colin Brian, Local 517-G President.

"I’m a fourth-generation press operator and there are a lot of families who have also been here, producing the paper, for decades. Postmedia is trying to force an end of an era, definitely not chosen by the dedicated and hard-working people at this paper. We, as union, will fight as hard as we can to keep printing of the paper in Windsor. We’re not accepting an end of an era."

Unifor represents more than 10,000 media workers, including journalists in the broadcast and print news industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

CWA Canada is the country’s only all-media union, representing 6,000 workers at the CBC, The Canadian Press, and newspapers and other companies coast to coast. 


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