'He does want us back': Union hopeful after meeting with newspaper president

'He does want us back': Union hopeful after meeting with newspaper president

The president of The Chronicle Herald, Mark Lever, met with the union representing striking employees Friday.

It's the first time the two sides have been face to face since the newly created company that owns the Herald, SaltWire Network, purchased 28 Transcontinental Media Inc. properties.

Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said the union needed to know how the new acquisition would affect Herald striking newsroom workers and future bargaining.

It was also an opportunity to ask him where the company, crying poor for more than a year, found the money to buy all of Transcontinental Newpapers in Atlantic Canada. 

"His answer was basically, it was a business decision. It was the right business decision to make. It didn't change anything for The Chronicle Herald and how we should bargain ... It was to help secure everybody's future including The Chronicle Herald," said Bulmer. 

The strike is now in its 15th month. "And for that reason going into the meeting, I think there was a lot of apprehension from everybody, including Mark," said Bulmer.

But Bulmer says it wasn't long before the mood changed quickly to an amicable exchange and even some joking to lighten the mood. "It was a pretty good meeting all-in-all. The last time we met with him, it was not as good as this time around."

Bulmer stopped short of making any predictions of how things will go when talks resume on May 2, but she does say they're hopeful.

"Mark Lever did say he does want us back. That was of course the fear. We believed at some point that the company just wanted us to go away, that they didn't want any staff and union to come back into the fold."

The Chronicle Herald's chief operating officer, Ian Scott, described the meeting as a debrief about the acquisition of Transcontinental and how that might affect bargaining and negotiations in the future.

Scott confirmed the paper's management plans to meet with the union on May 2.