Locked-out ‘Journal de Montreal’ Workers to Launch Weekly Tab

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By: E&P Staff

Just before the Labor Day weekend, locked-out workers for the Journal de Montreal announced plans to publish this fall a free weekly, Rue Frontenac, as an extension of the workers’ ruefrontenac.com. Quebecor’s Journal continues to publish.

The workers launched their Website in early 2009, after 253 members of the Syndicate des travailleurs de l’information du Journal de Montréal were locked out. Ruefrontenac.com claims more than 300,000 unique visitors monthly, mostly 25- to 44-year-old males, and serves more than 2.2 million page views.

The workers’ weekly will launch in spite of mediation set up by the provincial labor department last month, Richard Bousquet, vice president of the union’s editorial section, told Montreal’s English-language daily, The Gazette. According to Bousquet, approximately half the locked out workers were from the newsroom, though 10 or more have since quit or retired.

The two sides agreed not to discuss negotiations, which continue. A fund pays workers about three-quarters of their former take-home pay, tax free. The Journal announced in mid-July that it will fire nine locked-out employees and suspend about 100 others when the lock-out ends. The Gazette‘s Jan Ravensbergen reported that Quebec Superior Court found employees in contempt of court after 124 entered Journal offices a year earlier while protesting the lockout.

Besides copies hawked on street corners by workers calling attention to their dispute, he said the 48-page tabloid will distribute at least 50,000 copies through newsstands, with broader content than what is offered at the Website. In addition to news, sports, business and culture coverage, the paper is to include investigative features, analysis and columns.

The weekly aims to pay for itself through ad revenue and contributions. The Canadian Auto Workers union recently contributed $25,000 to the battle, recognizing that “it crosses traditional union lines,” Bousquet is quoted saying, adding that the Website “is doing better than break-even.”

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