Sunday, September 18, 2005

Who's The "Bad Guy"?

In every drama, be it a novel or a movie, there are good guys and bad guys. The usual formula is to make the audience believe at the start that the “bad guy” is a particular character. Then as the plot moves through twists and turns, the author teases with other possibilities. He takes you back and forth between various characters and back again to the original suspect. The intention is to make you change your mind and change it back again, over and over. Some dramatic works have surprise endings in which the “bad guy” is someone you never suspected. Others tease your imagination repeatedly, only to have the ending conclude that your first instincts were right all along.

As we move into Act 6 of the CBC Lockout, there are clearly mixed reactions about who really is the villain. The corporation locked us out. That made them the early suspect.

However, if you read my fellow bloggers on, or check out “My Stories” on, there has evidently been much indecision to date. Read the blog by Alison, a reporter in Winnipeg and she doesn’t seem to trust the CMG. An anonymous Toronto writer says he has issues with both union and management, a feeling that I’d guess resonates with many locked-out members. He accuses the CMG of treating “casuals and contracts like shit in favour of golden staffers”. A Windsor VJ also talks about the problems of temps and casuals. Don, a Vancouver food commentator touts the virtues the CMG’s Freelance Branch and all that it has done for him. He happens to be President of the CMG Freelance Executive Committee. Justin in Toronto writes about the “Perma-Temp”, giving an insightful perspective on what happens when corporations stop treating workers like people. “Locked Out x2”, a PEI radio reporter, addresses the union directly in her title, “CMG: What Have You Done For Me Lately?” Robin, from on-line news in Toronto raises a poignant question in his blog, “What Happens When a Casual Gets Cancer?”

Among “Your Stories” on areDave King’s “Finding Stability North of 60”; Garvia Bailey’s “Committed to An Uncertain Future”; Philly Markowitz’s “My Life as a Freelancer”; Amanda Morrall’s “The Casual Blues”; The Last Days of Laurie Allan”; and Donna Dingwall’s “Does the Mothercorp Really Like Mothers?” All of these provide insight about a neglected group of CBC’s locked-out workers.

Reading these, you could make the argument that the CMG has failed to represent non-permanent employees, even though they are dues-paying members. However, there is another twist in the plot. Go to and read “Contractual Does Not Mean Disposable”. The corp gets some their facts straight. They state that many of these people have worked at CBC for many years and are some of the most passionately committed defenders of public broadcasting. However, they also say that contractual employees receive either cash in lieu of benefits or benefits. No so for all. They also say that contractual employees enjoy the benefits of membership in the CMG. What the CMG has done for these people is still in question. The corp also says that many contractual employees receive financial compensation if their contract is not renewed. Again, it depends on your type of contract.

Now, I’m really confused about who’s the “bad guy”. I’m clearly not alone in feeling non-permanent workers have not been well represented by the CMG. The corp, however has played a role in this and the CMG has been their puppet, not our defender. In the 2003 Collective Agreement, CBC and the CMG agreed on including contracts types that, without exception, exclude some workers from benefits (or cash on lieu of), financial compensation when their contract is not renewed, pension and seniority. This same group can be terminated no notice, gets no vacation pay and gets a contract in which all the clauses favour of corporation. You can’t blame the CBC for wanting this, but we can thank the CMG for agreeing to it.

Can we expect our leaders to do better for us this time?

The CBC appears to believe that all contractual employees have these perks now. If they want that to be the case, then they should tell their bargaining committee.

When this drama finally ends, who will be the bad guy? Does there have to be just one?


Blogger Ray said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

18/9/05 12:28  
Blogger Brett, Windsor V-J said...

Perhaps CMG isn't the bad guy, I was reading some past CEP memorandums of agreement, and CBC offers to CEP from the last couple of Technical "labour disruptions". I remember reading a paragraph dealing with Tecnical temps and casuals that was almost word for word what you quoted about cash in lieu of benefits. Maybe CEP should have fought harder for Temps and Casual benefits, and now they would be in the CMG contract.

19/9/05 21:10  

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