The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Jan. 15, from publisher John Cruickshank.
As part of the continued evolution of the Toronto Star, we are today announcing a series of changes to improve the quality of our print product and reduce the cost of operations.
Earlier this morning, we advised staff at the Vaughan Press Centre that the Toronto Star has entered into an agreement with Transcontinental Printing to print the Star. Services are expected to commence in July, 2016. Printing operations at Vaughan are expected to cease then, affecting about 220 full-time and 65 part-time staff. The Star has commenced discussions with unions representing the affected employees to develop a transition plan.
This decision was taken following a comprehensive, multi-year review of printing options for the newspaper. This review considered a series of options, including maintaining printing operations at Vaughan, building and operating a smaller printing facility, and outsourcing printing to a third party. In the end, the business case led to a clear conclusion that outsourcing printing to Transcontinental and decommissioning the Vaughan facility is necessary to improve the production quality of the newspaper and to reduce the cost of printing.
While successful for 25 years, the Vaughan printing facility is now too large and expensive to continue operations in light of the difficult market conditions we face. The Vaughan presses are aging and it would eventually require a significant amount of money to replace or refurbish them. Transcontinental’s newer, high-quality presses will result in a dramatic improvement in the reproduction quality of the paper.
Unfortunately, the decision will also mean we will be saying goodbye to our long-time printing plant employees. The tremendously talented people working in our printing facility have had a long record of success over the years in printing the Star.
The Toronto Star is also announcing today its intention to outsource customer service and administration functions performed in the Circulation Department, affecting approximately 15 staff. We have today advised Unifor of that intent. We will be providing the union with the details of our business case for this decision and will seriously consider any alternatives the union may wish to present. We hope to conclude that process quickly so the affected employees have a sense of certainty regarding the future.
Editorial and Other Departments
The Toronto Star is launching a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) for Star employees represented by Unifor. Details will be provided on Monday in a separate communication to eligible employees. Employees represented by Unifor in the Star’s editorial, finance and syndication functions are eligible to apply if they meet the program terms and conditions.
In addition, a number of other staff, both union and management, have been advised that their roles are being eliminated due to changes in business conditions. These include roles in the newsroom and other areas of the company.
These decisions are being made because of the very challenging market conditions that are affecting the Star and other media organizations. They represent our continued commitment to the Star in print while we also continue to expand our digital footprint through thestar.com and Toronto Star Touch.
On behalf of the executive team I want to thank all members of the Star’s staff for their continued commitment and dedication in these challenging times.
Publisher, Toronto Star
President, Star Media Group