National election at CWA Canada under way

2015.03.26

This is a national election year for CWA Canada and the nomination period is now open for two senior leadership positions.

All members are eligible to run for office or nominate someone as a candidate for President and/or Vice-president, the posts currently held by Martin O’Hanlon and Lois Kirkup, respectively.

The deadline for submitting nominations is noon on Thursday, April 16.

If an election is required, a campaign and voting period of 35 days would immediately follow, during which each union Local can decide how it wants to conduct the vote.

Locals can opt to hold a vote in the workplace or have ballots sent directly to members who would then mail them to head office in Ottawa in a prepaid envelope.

The President of CWA Canada, which is a full-time paid position, and the Vice-president serve four-year terms.

The official election notice and nomination form are available on the CWA|SCA Canada website.

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For more information, contact CWA|SCA Canada Election Committee member Scott Edmonds.

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LINKS:

election notice

http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca/documents/pdf/2015/150326_elxn_notice.pdf

nomination form (bilingual)

http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca/documents/pdf/2015/150326_nominate.pdf

Scott Edmonds

tsedmonds@yahoo.ca

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PRESIDENT’S COLUMN: DIGITAL MEDIA WORKERS EYE ORGANIZING

March 4, 2015

IN January, the Washington Post reported on the city’s latest “scandal.”

Evidently, a union organizing drive was underway in a digital-news shop. The “threat” was so real that a right-wing anti-taxer vowed to help fight off the terrible union.

That audacious union was ours.

What the Post didn’t know is that we routinely get phone calls from digital-media employees curious about organizing. Some of those calls turn into full-fledged drives. Others don’t. Or they aren’t public yet as pro-union employees work behind the scenes building support

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that workers like the idea of democracy in the workplace. Despite all the ill-informed badmouthing of unions, surveys show that most workers would join a union given the opportunity. Grievously, the damage that corporations, anti-union politicians and the courts have done to labor law over the years limits those opportunities.

When employees at digital publications call us, they are as likely to talk about working conditions as wages. This is especially true as workers get into their late 20’s and early 30’s—when they’ve decided they want a life as well as a job.

We help these workers any way we can. If they decide to organize, they are in control of the process. They decide what’s important and what a fair contract would look like.

It should go without saying that it’s invaluable to have a signed document that states what the rules are, as well as minimum standards for wages and benefits. You’ll never find an executive who hasn’t negotiated a contract—typically a highly favorable one with a fat exit package even if he or she is fired.

In the turbulent industry that is media today, these conversations are more important than ever. While some employers are smart enough to pay for quality journalism, others see a sea of laid-off writers and editors and scheme to get as much work out of them as possible at the lowest cost. Some are so arrogant and brazen that they use the “cachet” of a byline to barter for work with no pay.

But even the worst of those employers aren’t the parasites that are Google, Facebook and other content aggregators that effectively steal revenue from news organizations.

Whether your organization is all-digital or still has a print component, Google and its ilk are taking advantage. Google would have you believe that its own genius is responsible for its wealth—nearly $5 billion in profit in the last quarter of 2014, up 30 percent from the same quarter in 2013. In fact, those billions are siphoned from your labor and others’ investment.

Fresh, quality, credible information is a precious resource. It gets more valuable every day, as once-proud and respected news organizations slash jobs and wages. As new employers attempt to fill the gaping hole in the quality and quantity of bona fide journalism, it is vital that workers have a voice.

I noted that some people feel threatened by unions and purposely distort what we do, throwing around phrases like “union bosses” and “union thugs.” They want workers to see unions as outsiders who would exploit them. We know that nothing could be further from the truth.

But they spread those lies because workplace democracy is the last thing they want. They demand no limits on their power and greed. They see unions as a threat because history proves how effective we are at improving workers’ lives. They know that unions did, in fact, create America’s now-disappearing middle class.

Unions aren’t the enemy of management. We can and do work with employers to build better products and stronger companies. In our field, no one cares more about the product—journalism—than journalists themselves. When we can negotiate fair wages, benefits and working conditions, quality journalism thrives.

The loudmouth union-haters on certain TV networks and radio shows, have done a huge disservice to the many Americans who are told nothing about the democratic nature of unions and how we function.

There’s nothing “shocking” about journalists or any other workers trying to form a union. They are ordinary people who want some control over their work lives. You may be one of those people. Give us a call. You’ll be in good company.

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2015 John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler Memorial Scholarships

Dear Local President,

I am pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the John Belcarz and Dan Zeidler post-secondary education/training memorial scholarships. Two scholarships of $1,000 each are available.

The accompanying attachments contain a poster and application form in both English and French (also available on our website: http://www.cwa-scacanada.ca). Please circulate this information to your members.

In solidarity,

Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA/SCA Canada

English
Download poster  application

Francais
Télécharger  affiche application

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CJFE is hiring!!

image001Position Title: Editorial and Events Assistant
Location: 555 Richmond St. W, Suite 1101, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

About CJFE:
CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others’ free expression rights.

Duties/Job Description
The job will be a 12-month, full-time contract position with the possibility of roll over into a full-time, permanent position. Primary duties will include writing and copy editing content for the CJFE website, assisting with the publication of CJFE’s annual Review of Free Expression in Canada, coordinating logistics for the annual CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting, helping with membership engagement, and other miscellaneous tasks as needed. The employee will report to the CJFE Executive Director.

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • • Writing, copy editing, and fact-checking assignments for CJFE’s Review of Free Expression in Canada and CJFE.org
  • • Assisting with the annual CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting (tracking ticket sales and sponsor payments, communicating with committee members, etc.)
  • • Conducting research on press freedom issues and other topics in Canada and internationally
  • • Writing alerts and press releases on behalf of CJFE
  • • Contributing to CJFE’s social media accounts
  • • Assisting with other educational and outreach events as needed
  • • Assisting with membership outreach
  • • Undertaking other duties as needed

Requirements:

  • • Excellent written communication skills
  • • Excellent organizational and time-management skills
  • • Strong copy editing skills
  • • Strong attention to detail
  • • Minimum undergraduate degree in a related field (journalism, international relations, etc.)
  • • Strong Excel skills
  • • Interest in and knowledge of current affairs and free expression issues
  • • Previous experience (work or voluntary) with event planning considered an asset
  • • Fact checking experience considered an asset
  • • Previous journalism experience considered an asset
  • • Bilingualism considered an asset
  • • Website development, graphic design skills and experience with HTML considered an asset

Meeting these requirements is important. However, passion, intelligence, a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn is what the job requires above all else. We will be open to applications from strong candidates who possess these qualities even if they don’t meet all the requirements outlined above.

Hours: 37.5 hours per week

Remuneration: $20,000 annually

How to apply: Submit an application including current CV, cover letter and clippings by e-mail to thenheffer@cjfe.org.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Monday, January 26, 2015.

We thank you for your interest, but only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Interviews of short-listed candidates will likely take place in the first week of February. Start date will be as soon as possible following the interviews.
____________________________________

Tom Henheffer
Executive Director

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

O: (416) 515-9622 ex. 226
C: (647) 992-4630
www.CJFE.org

@henheffer

 

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Save the CBC, Stop the TPP: A Call to Action in 2015

By Martin O’Hanlon

President, CWA/SCA Canada

Making New Year’s predictions is risky business.

Last January, I predicted the worst would be over for newspapers in 2014 and things would start to improve.

Well, I may have been half right.

The last year, like the last decade, was not kind to the media industry. We saw more deep and damaging cuts at a number of employers, with the CBC and Halifax Chronicle Herald hardest hit.

In Halifax, a proud and vibrant newsroom was stunned and battered by deep cuts that came with no warning, empathy or delicacy.

At the CBC, we are losing hundreds of colleagues and unless we get a government that will provide adequate funding, the survival of our public broadcaster is in doubt.

As we begin 2015, I remain confident that things will improve, but we can’t just sit back and hope. We must stand up for jobs and journalism, and we must build a movement for social and economic justice. After all, if we don’t, who will?

Each of us has a part to play and once again, I am asking every member of CWA Canada to do something – even just one small thing – to help as we launch two new campaigns.

The first, the “Save the CBC” campaign, is already gearing up under the direction of our biggest local, the Canadian Media Guild.

The goal is to make quality public broadcasting a ballot box issue in this year’s federal election.

For years now, the CBC has been starved of the funds it needs to fulfill its federally legislated mandate.

The Harper Conservatives, while scared to kill the CBC outright, have not been shy about showing their disdain for public broadcasting. Unless they change their position, or unless we have a new government committed to public broadcasting, the CBC will fade away.

That unthinkable prospect would be a huge blow to Canadian culture and it would mean the loss of CBC News, with far fewer journalists to keep an eye on government, politicians and corporate power brokers.

That’s bad for society and democracy and we can’t let it happen.

So what can we do?

Over the coming weeks and months, we will use email, Twitter, Facebook and workplace posters to let you know how you can help.

It could be:

•    Attending a Save the CBC rally

•    Signing an online petition

•    Joining our Facebook page

•    Retweeting Twitter posts

•    Telling your local MP that the CBC matters to you

Our second campaign is to stop Canada from signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive “trade” deal being negotiated behind closed doors.

The TPP isn’t really a trade agreement at all – it’s a cozy arrangement that would give corporations unprecedented new international powers and it’s being negotiated with plenty of input from corporations and almost no involvement from elected officials, never mind labour leaders or environmental experts.

The TPP would have a major impact on Canada, yet almost no one is talking about it. We must change that.

Under the TPP:

·       Foreign corporations would be able to challenge Canadian laws (environment, safety, etc.) bypassing Canadian courts and going directly to closed-door international tribunals that could override Canadian sovereignty.

·       Canada would lose thousands more jobs as companies move production overseas, particularly to Vietnam where garment workers earn just 50 cents an hour.

With both the CBC and TPP campaigns, we have to build a movement, working with other progressives, including community organizations, social groups, student activists, environmentalists, religious leaders – anyone with whom we can find a common interest.

Again, over the coming months, we will use email and social media to let you know how you can help.

One person and one act at a time, working together, we can make a difference.

Let’s each do our part in 2015 to protect quality jobs, defend quality journalism – and make Canada a better place.

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LUNZER: WHAT’S IN A NAME? WHY IT’S PAST TIME FOR ‘NEWSGUILD’

December 23, 2014
In 1995, when only 14 percent of Americans had internet access, I purchased the web domain name “NewsGuild.org.”

I was convinced that local Guild leaders would vote to drop “paper” from our name at our next meeting. I was wrong. Delegates had strong and passionate feelings about “newspapers,” almost as if bracing against the tidal wave of change headed toward their industry and careers.

Twenty years later, it is past time. It is inevitable. We are media. We are content producers. Ink may be in our blood but it is no longer essential to our survival. That is why a resolution to change our name to “NewsGuild” will be offered at our sector conference in January. Based on reactions at regional conferences this fall, I expect it to pass.

We are rightfully proud to be long associated with newspapers and their investments in and commitments to quality journalism. Yes, hedge funds and other distant owners have hurt those investments and commitments, but it is still true that most news stories and investigative journalism originate with newspapers.

Most stories—but not all—as this year’s Heywood Broun awards illustrate. The top Broun award was shared by the online Center for Public Integrity and ABC News for a phenomenal joint investigation into a coal industry conspiracy to deprive sick miners of medical benefits.

ABC’s Brian Ross accepted the award saying how honored he and the producing team were to receive the award from The Newspaper Guild — even though “we don’t think of ourselves as newspaper people.”

But “In this day and age in journalism, we’re all really one,” he added, all of us sharing the latest technology “to tell important and big stories.”

Members of the Guild’s Executive Council were struck by Ross’ words. They may have never heard anyone say that our name limited journalists from identifying with the Guild.

Our goal isn’t to preserve print — as hard as it is for many baby boomers to imagine a day starting without coffee and the morning paper, emphasis on paper.                     Our mission is to preserve quality journalism and good jobs. On the best of days, this is a challenge. It is even more difficult if we are limited by our name.

Our new name will continue to be linked, proudly, with the Communications Workers of America. CWA is a good case study for us. Our parent union began as the National Federation of Telephone Workers but reorganized in 1947 as the Communications Workers. The name didn’t limit CWA to telephone and telecommunication work. Instead, a forward-thinking organization was born that 50 years later was a natural fit for newspaper and broadcast workers, interpreters and all kinds of customer service representatives.

As the fight for a reliable business model continues for news organizations, the upheaval and uncertainty for workers brings evermore urgency to our work. It’s critical that journalists and other media workers looking for help don’t come across “The Newspaper Guild” and be discouraged by our name. We believe “NewsGuild-CWA” will make a difference.

Unfortunately, journalists are far from the only newspaper workers being hurt as technology forever changes, or kills, jobs. A brazen misassumption in the early years of the internet was that the web would have little effect on newspaper advertising.

No one predicted Craigslist, let along Google, Facebook, and the myriad other high-tech means of separating revenue from content. Google is particularly infuriating to me, so far removed from its “Don’t Be Evil” beginnings. Today, it is a multi-billionaire parasite, using its wealth and power to gain more wealth and power while fighting against compensating the content creators they exploit.

“Tell us to stop searching your sites,” they tell news organizations that complain. I think it’s time for publishers to call their bluff. Some in the media have fantasized about a separate search engine or portal, where visitors would either pay for content up front or advertising revenue would be returned to the content creators. I’m not sure why no one is seriously talking about this yet. Like our name change, it’s past time.

The irony is that even Google needs us to succeed in our fight to save paid journalists and journalism. Well researched, accurately reported, reliable information is the common denominator, whether we’re talking about a search engine’s profits or our democracy’s survival.

NewsGuild-CWA plans to be part of those conversations for many years to come.

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