Hark, the Herald’s Still on Strike!

I was just a kid the first time I learned the word “scab” could be applied to something other than a rough patch of skin.

I had gone with my father to visit his aunt in a nursing home up the street from our house. The staff were on strike, and we were talking to one of the women on the picket line when she spotted a vehicle forcing its way through the strikers, heading for the front doors of the facility. She broke off mid-sentence to turn and scream, “SCAB!” at the top of her lungs. I didn’t know what a scab was, but I knew then and there I never wanted to be one.

Which is why I can’t believe the writers who either continue to work for or have begun working for the Chronicle Herald since its unionized newsroom employees went on strike a year ago. And don’t tell me, “times are hard,” “people need jobs.” I think there were about 10 minutes in the 1970s when that wasn’t the case here in Cape Breton. Do you think the miners who first unionized the coal mines were able to do so because times were good and they didn’t face any threat from people who needed jobs? Do you seriously not understand the principle of “solidarity?”

The Herald, which employs 500 people directly, is trying to fire 29 of its 55 unionized staff — reporters, photographers, editors and support staff — to “remain sustainable.”

No one is arguing the news business isn’t facing serious economic challenges these days, but take a step back and you’ll notice that the whole world is facing an even more serious challenge — the dawn of the post-truth era. It’s a challenge epitomized by the 45th president of the United States who has declared war on the media, encouraged his White House spokesperson to chastise reporters for printing the truth and employed an adviser with a ready supply of “alternative facts.” Add to that mix Macedonian teenagers with their fake news stories and the dominance of Facebook as a “news source” and this looks like a job for — REPORTERS!

Real ones, like the ones who are walking picket lines in Nova Scotia.

If you still buy the Herald, advertise in the Herald or write for the Herald you’re on the wrong side.

Come back.

 

Photos from the rally at the Civic Centre in Sydney on January 23, one of several held across the province to mark the one-year anniversary of the Herald strike. Local reporters Tom Ayers and Erin Pottie have been on the picket line since January 2016. CBRM Councilors Ray Parach, Darren Bruckschwaiger and Kendra Coombes were in attendance as were Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald and Mayor Cecil Clarke who addressed the crowd, recognizing the role played by journalists in democracies.