NOVEMBER 18, 2002 – The average union member working at the Cobourg Daily Star and Port Hope Evening Guide, earns $10.91 an hour. No wonder they have been walking the picket line since October 11, demanding nothing more than a living wage.
Twenty years ago, non-union graphic arts employees were making $10 an hour in Ontario. It is scandalous that, 20 years of price increases later, people are expected to live on the same amount.
According to the strikers’ union, the Communication Workers of America local 30248, “over the past three years employees” at the two papers “have lost 1.9 per cent to inflation and based on the current inflation rate will lose another 2.2 per cent if they accept Mike Walsh’s [the owner’s] proposed 2.5 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent wage increase over the next three years.”
The union’s demands are very modest – just 3.75 per cent over two years.
But Walsh refuses to budge.
He is being backed up by the municipal councils in Cobourg and Port Hope, which have refused to cut their ties with the scab publications that are being produced by management.
This could be a long and difficult strike.
Events that happened October 23 showed how the strike could be shortened.
Flying pickets showed up at the Trentonian (where the two papers are printed), and seriously delayed delivery of the scab papers, as trucks were “stacked up as they waited to pick up the papers.”
Flying pickets like this, that disrupt the production and distribution of the scab papers, are the way to win this strike.
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© 2002 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.
 While visiting my folks in Cobourg, Ontario, I came across a picket line on King Street – and wrote this little report after chatting with the strikers. Comprehensive information on the strike was provided by Communications Workers of America Local 30248, including the fact that striking workers published their own newspaper, Lakeshorefreenews.com. (CWA 30248, “On Strike,” December 3, 2002, https://web.archive.org/web/20021203021534/http://cwa30248.addr.com/NorthumberlandStrike/Index.html.) After the conclusion of the strike, a helpful background piece was written by Meghan Clarke (“Lord Sifton Of Fleet?,” Review of Journalism (blog), June 23, 2003, https://rrj.ca/lord-sifton-of-fleet/.)
 “Wages Key Issue in Canadian News Strikes,” Communications Workers of America, October 25, 2002, https://cwa-union.org/news/entry/wages_key_issue_in_canadian_news_strikes.
 “Victoria Strike Settled; Ontario Newspaper Disputes Continue,” Communications Workers of America, November 1, 2002, https://cwa-union.org/news/entry/victoria_strike_settled_ontario_newspaper_disputes_continue.