Dear CEO of Halifax Public Libraries,
As I walked to the Library this morning,I stopped at Duggers on Spring Garden Road because I saw a picket line of striking Chronicle Herald workers were outside the clothing store, handing out leaflets about why they were on strike. After talking to the strikers, I came into the library and noticed that at some information desks there was the Herald, there for the public to peruse.
I am a prof at Saint Mary’s University. I teach industrial relations in the Sobey School of Business. While I agree with the axiom “freedom to read”, I do NOT think that means that the public library should display the Herald. In fact I think the library should stop its subscription until the strike is over.
Workers — such as writers, columnists and editors — have been on strike for more than 9 months now. There is no end in sight. Part of the reason for this is that stores, including Duggers, continue to advertise in the Herald, and subscribers, such as the Library, continue to have it delivered.
The Herald is no longer a newspaper “of record” as once could be said. Staffed by scabs, who do not even use their own bylines because of their weak journalism, or fear of being “black listed” in the wider media world — the newspaper is a shadow of its former self. I’m quite sure that the Metro (which now supercedes the Herald in readership), CBC online and other sources can deliver the news.
What we all can do is honour the people who have had little money and little joy in nine months. We can honour the fact that they are making a sacrifice and taking a stand so we all don’t suffer from the exploitation that the Herald’s CEO and its publisher are meting out.
I understand the ‘right to read’. I think at this stage, however, that axiom has to give way to common sense. And a sense that we are all in a common struggle to save good jobs, keep wages respectable, and ensure professional and trained journalists deliver our news and commentary. Many times I’ve commented to front line staff at the Library and some agree with me. Now it’s up to you to stop subscribing to the Herald.
Judy Haiven is a professor in the Management Department of St. Mary’s University and a social activist.