Saturday, October 29, 2005

Solidarity Forever -- Not for Me

Some of the people who have e-mailed me after reading this blog have said I sounded “angry”. I’m a lousy blogger because I haven’t posted in nearly 2 weeks, but that’s not because of anger. It’s because, now that we’re back at work there’s not a lot of time for posting blogs. And that’s a shame because the battle is far from over.

I’m am angry. The people who observed that were right. I’m still angry. Today I did a Google blog search with the keywords “CBC freelancer”. Of course, some of the results the search returned were from this site. But the amount of other good, strong and heartfelt information was staggering. We can only hope the Canadian Media Guild and CBC management read the blogs.

CBC and the CMG have a problem. It's that freelancers work hard and belong to this union too. And we're fed up. Unfortunately, the CMG is just waking up about it. I don’t think the CBC even knows about it. As we start our fourth week back in the building nothing appears to have changed in management’s pure ignorance of the major lockout issues or, specifically, freelancing.

Some people believe that the bigger and more powerful organizations always win against the little guy. I believe that is often true, but not always. Probably more often, because those organizations are so successful at intimidating the little guy. The environment of fear that exists among workers at CBC is a fine example. Of the freelancers who have contacted me as a result of this blog, less than 5 used their real name in contacting me. Even they requested that their name not be associated with their thoughts and input. I have honoured their wishes. The remainder have used pseudonyms but, in some cases, given away a lot about themselves.

I believe that a few “little people”, even the most vulnerable ones, can make change against big organizations with more power and lots of money.

The CMG chanted a lot about "solidarity forever". I have laboured in solidarity with my co-workers for many years. That won't change. I still have fond feelings for them because they treat me well and they’re great people. Like many CBC workers, I remain loyal to the CBC as an institution in whose purpose and mandate I believe strongly. I enjoy being part of, what will hopefully remain, the finest quality broadcasting in Canada.

But solidarity with a union that completely failed, neglected and even misled an important group of its members? Not me. I walked the line because I needed the money, to support my co-workers and to support public broadcasting. One of the best parts of the experience was having the time to get to know some co-workers better. But, I now feel almost ashamed and embarrassed to have pounded the pavement appearing to support a union that failed so miserably at supporting its membership.

Like most people who are drawn to journalism. I am a person of strong principles. I react when I uncover wrong-doing. The way in which the CMG failed us does not effect only freelancers. It effects the very people they professed to be protecting. By demanding a ceiling on the number of contract employees, they opened the flood gates for CBC to hire more freelancers. These new hires are more likely to be forced freelancers, instead of freelancers-by-choice. And, thanks to the CMG’s agreement with CBC on standard form contracts, even the freelancers-by-choice have no choice about anything. Our rights must have been one of those “throw-aways” negotiators speak of. They threw us to the wolves in favour of something that would, no doubt, benefit the CMG more than it’s members.

The CMG set out to limit the CBC’s wish for “a more flexible workforce” and ended up opening the door for more of the most vulnerable workers to be created. And the CMG took 17 months to do this, while representing our needs. Freelancers are not the only losers. The CMG lost on behalf of all of us and the future of the CBC.

I will remain in solidarity with those who do the right thing and are honest about what they are paid to do.

1 Comments:

Blogger Amazing said...

Very presumptuous of you to set yourself up to represent freelancers ...

I hope that the other freelancers are a bit brighter than the dim bulb shining here ...

3/11/05 14:39  

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