Vote the Issues that Affect You!

Dear fellow CWA Canada members,

We’re less than a month away from the federal election – an election that will be pivotal to us and to our families as working people and as Canadians. It is vital that we all understand the issues in this campaign so that we can make informed choices.

Do we want a government that supports workers, decent pay, good pensions, fair working conditions, and public broadcasting? Or do we want legislation and policies that drive down wages, delay old-age pension, hurt workers, and threaten the very existence of the CBC?

Do we want a Canada where we work for the common good, build each other up, and respect democracy?

As a leader who represents thousands of journalists, I cannot support one political party over another. But that doesn’t mean I must sit idly back when a government, political party or any group threatens journalism, the democratic process, or the economic interest of our members.

Please take a minute to look at the four key issues below of special interest to us all.

Please also take a minute to share with your friends, through social media or otherwise, the importance of electing a government that will strengthen Canada by supporting decent wages, stronger pensions, fair working conditions – and public broadcasting.

All the best,

Martin

Martin O’Hanlon

President, CWA/SCA Canada

ELECTION ISSUES

1) Save the CBC

We have lost 2,000 jobs at the CBC in the last five years. Unless we get a government that will provide adequate funding, the survival of our public broadcaster is in doubt.

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, and to tell the stories of Canadians. Does anyone think that’s good for democracy? For society? For the economy?

Even the president of the CBC is finally admitting that he should have sounded the alarm earlier. In a speech last week, Hubert Lacroix admitted that “like the proverbial frog put in cold water that is slowly heated, we’ve resisted telling people that we risk being boiled to death.”

Each of the three opposition parties has promised to reverse the $115 million the Conservative government cut from the CBC budget. The Conservatives have not responded to our request for their position.

Here is a link listing each party’s commitment on the CBC:

And here is a link to our Save the CBC campaign webpage:

http://www.cmg.ca/en/champion-public-broadcasting/

2) Anti-union Bill C-377

It took two years for the Conservative government to force this fundamentally flawed bill through Parliament. It’s so bad that it was originally defeated in the Senate last year – with the help of some Conservative senators.

The Harper PMO was finally able to ram it through this year, but only after having Tory senators overrule longtime Senate rules.

The Conservatives say Bill C-377, which is a copy of anti-union Republican legislation in the U.S., is about making union finances more transparent. That is a lie. Union finances are already transparent. Our books are audited and any member can see them. But union financial information is for members – not for the public. It’s telling that the bill does not apply to any other member organizations like lawyers and doctors groups.

The bill’s real intent is to tie up unions with red tape and make suck out financial and other information for right-wing propaganda.

It is an intrusive, unfair, unnecessary and ideologically motivated piece of rubbish that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year to administer and yield no benefit to society. It is unconstitutional and we will challenge it in court if the Conservatives are re-elected.

The opposition parties have said they will repeal the bill.

For more information:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/04/an_open_pmo_door_for_a_private_antiunion_bill_tim_harper.html

3) Secret police Bill C-51

Bill C-51 gives the government unprecedented and intrusive new powers, which, in the words of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) “presents disturbing implications for free speech, privacy, the powers of government, including CSIS, and the protection of civil liberties in Canada.”

We strongly support a Charter challenge against Bill C-51 which has been launched by CJFE and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).

The NDP has said they will repeal the bill; the Liberals have said they will change it.

For more information:

http://cjfe.org/resources/media_releases/ccla-and-cjfe-mount-charter-challenge-against-bill-c-51

4) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The TPP is a huge international trade deal being negotiated by the federal government – in secret – with plenty of input from multinational corporations, but nothing from labour leaders, environmentalists and other experts. Even our MPs don’t know what’s in it.

It’s actually far more than a trade deal. It’s a corporate rights deal that would give multinational corporations the power to override Canadian sovereignty by suing governments under secretive trade tribunals — rather than through the courts — if they feel our labour, environmental, health or other standards contravene the TPP and could lead to a loss of profits.

Canada would lose thousands more jobs under the TPP as companies move manufacturing and other jobs to low-wage countries such as Vietnam.

The TPP would have a major impact on Canada, yet almost no one is talking about it. How can there be so little debate – and information – in a democracy about such a huge deal?

Please educate yourself. For more information:

On Facebook, check out: Trade Justice Network

On Twitter, follow: @TradeJusticeNet

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.

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.

Winning the Fight for Fairness: What Will You Do in 2014?

 head-martinBy Martin O’Hanlon

CWA Canada Director

I’m going to make a bold prediction for 2014: the tide will finally begin to turn.

It will turn for newspapers, which have been through the worst and will begin to see revenues climb again.

It will turn for the Harper government (it already has really) which has been attacking labour, the CBC, and many other progressive voices in Canada.

And most importantly, it will turn for economic inequality, which has become the biggest threat to this country’s future.

By noon on Jan. 2, each of Canada’s top-paid CEO’s had earned as much money in 2014 as the average Canadian worker will make all year.

I don’t begrudge a CEO, or anyone else, a big paycheque. But it is fundamentally unfair – not to mention bad for the economy and society – for companies to pay those big salaries and rake in huge profits when they don’t pay their workers a decent wage.

It angers me when Postmedia cuts hundreds of jobs and insists that it can’t give workers a raise, and then increases its CEO pay by a whopping 50%, to $1.7 million.

More importantly, it angers the majority of Canadians, who have an innate sense of what’s fair.

As 2014 dawns, ordinary people are finally realizing that there are fewer and fewer decent-paying jobs out there – the jobs that built this country.

Many young people are realizing that they may never be able to have that white picket fence. And many parents realize that their children don’t have the opportunity they had.

People are realizing that our political and financial system overwhelmingly favours big companies and the rich, and they see it for what it is: injustice.

It’s vital now that we in the labour movement show Canadians that we all share the same core values and that we are the only ones standing up for the Middle Class.

We have to build a movement, and that means working with other progressives, whether it’s community organizations, social groups, student activists, environmentalists, religious leaders – anyone with whom we can find a common interest.

The Canadian Labour Congress, to which we at CWA Canada belong, is attempting to do just that with its “Fairness Works” campaign. (Please visit:fairnessworks.ca)

The campaign aims to engage millions of union members in conversations about how unions have improved their lives – and share their stories with Canadians to help build a united movement for social justice.

And that’s where each of us has to play a part in 2014.

I am asking each of you – every member of CWA Canada – to commit to doing just one thing this year for the common good.

It could be talking to a fellow worker, especially a younger one, about getting involved in the union. It might be posting about social/economic justice issues on Facebook, volunteering to do something for your Local, telling friends about the good the union does, donating to a cause – whatever.

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

Let’s each do our part to protect quality jobs, defend quality journalism, improve wages, grow our union – and make Canada a better place.

Fairness works. Let’s fight the good fight together!