Wednesday, October 05, 2005

CAUTION: Read Thoroughly Before Voting

My previous posting called "Who's the Bad Guy" is no longer valid because I now know the answer. CBC's freelance contracts have sometimes attempted to take away my rights. But, never without the endorsement of the Canadian Media Guild. Now the CMG has dealt a sleazier blow than any experience I have ever had with the corporation.

I'm glad I described my reaction to the new deal as "Cautiously Optimistic" yesterday. Today there is no optimism left, only caution.

CMG President Lise Lareau greeted hundreds of picketers at Toronto's Simcoe Park on Monday morning with jubilant shouts of "We won". Then she took questions and told some big fibs (nice term for lies) when she didn't know the answer. It was all part of the brain-washing spin the union was spreading to ensure a yes vote. Then, they issued highlights of the agreement, in writing, as an "EXTRA" edition of their On the Line newsletter. What was printed supported Lareau's claims and was distributed by the CMG. Any good journalist knows you don't write it unless you know it is fact. You can be held liable if you do.

Almost everything Lareau said about freelancers turned out to be untrue. A professional union President, speaking about an agreement that had not yet been put to paper, should not have made sweeping statements or given definite answers to members' questions.

Lareau was grilled by a couple of freelancers about important issues she had failed to address in her speech. She responded to the large group in the park, without qualifying her answers by admitting that she really didn't know. In doing so she said all classifications of freelancers would get the $1,000 signing bonus. She did the same on retroactivity for freelancers. She said that the unique clause in the opening of the document stating that, for the purposes of this document, the use of the word "employee" excludes freelancers. She also said, in a less sweeping, but confidently convincing manner that all freelancers would be able to retain copyright if they wished. She was wrong on all counts.

On Friday morning all members awoke to an e-mail talking about payment dates. Method of payment for freelancers (most of whom invoice for their work was, of course, not addressed). The shocking news was that freelancers will receive no retroactivity and only a $500 signing bonus. Lise was wrong. And the CMG published and distributed it.

With the exception of the only group of freelancers the CMG has ever made a modest attempt to represent (Freelance Contributors), the "new deal" that "we won" is the status quo.

The CMG put in writing and distributed what freelancers would get and they should be held liable for the difference between that and the truth. Your the President Lise, so accept the fact that "the buck stops here" -- in your office.

If CMG leadership would be so deceitful and verbally careless on one issue, they wouldn't hesitate on others. Read the details of the issues that concern you very carefully before casting your vote.

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