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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Guilt, and an incipient Tom Paine

I have a confession to make. Before this whole mess happened, I mentioned to some colleagues that I thought maybe the Guild needed a taste of what CEP has already gone through. Then we would all be working for the same CBC. I could try to pretend that I didn't really mean it, and that I didn't really think the lockout would happen, but the fact is I did mean it. And it's awful. It's a horrible thing to wish on anybody and now that it's actually happened I am genuinely sorry.

Allow me to explain where I was coming from.

Right from the get go I loved the CBC, and loved working for it. I felt it was like a family, a family to which I wholeheartedly belonged. So when CEP went on strike the first time I was stunned that management would allow it to happen (although I suppose one could argue that CEP was ultimately responsible). It was then that I first realized that CBC Radio might well be a family, but it was a dysfunctional family. Then, when we were subsequently locked out, well, that was the last straw. Both times the Guild made noises about supporting the CEP. Both times I was left feeling betrayed by the Guild. It's no secret that the reason the Guild has never had to go out is because they've always won their concessions on the backs of the techs.

Let me make it perfectly clear that virtually all of the Guild members that I knew when I was CEP I liked, admired, respected, counted as friends. I am talking about the Guild as an entity, not on a personal level.

With the odd exception.

I am not the only former CEP member who began to bristle at certain Guild members approaching us on the picket line, putting their arms around us and saying in this vaguely patronizing tone, "How's it goin'? Have you heard anything?"

And you knew damned well that this same individual would proceed to enter the building and do whatever he/she could to get his/her show on the air, effectively doing his/her part to help keep us on the street. I am still angry at freelancers I know who crossed the picket line to work for people like that. Angry, and mystified.

So it was that I harboured this secret fantasy of the Guild being locked out or going on strike while we, CEP, stayed inside. So that I could approach these very same people and put my arm around them and say, as sincerely as I could muster, "How's it goin'? Have you heard anything?"

I am not proud of this feeling, I do not sanction this feeling. I hope never to harbour such a feeling again.

But reading some other blogs, I see that Guild members are finally realizing what CEP members have long known. That mom and dad don't give a rat's ass about us. Don't expect any appreciation for all your hard work from the Corporation, because THE CORPORATION DOESN'T CARE.

But here's where you have to be smart about it, and perhaps a little imaginative. Because I have seen older employees who have been through one job action too many give up. Heck, I'm watching it happen to my colleagues now. The thing is, you can't give up. Because it's not the Corporation we're working for. It sure as hell isn't George Smith or Richard Sternberg or Robert Rabinovitch.

It's the Canadian Public, that's who we're working for, who we're fighting for. Our listeners and our viewers. And sometimes we're working for the people whose material we're putting on the air, whether it be writers or actors or hard luck cases or just somebody with a great story to be told.

That's why even though I'm frankly fed up with CBC Senior Management I'm not looking for another job and I now support the Guild with all my heart. Because I have a job to do and an important role to play and I will damned well continue to do it in spite of the current CBC management.

And perhaps to spite them.


Blogger AC@43 said...

Keep it up .. as a ex radio tech permanent/part-time let go in '95 I know (or think I understand how you feel). I had no love for CEP , all they got me was some back pay, my ass was out the door so fast when Charley C finally got around to telling me that he wasn't renewing my contract. I'm glad I escaped the lockouts. As to the producers, I discovered that people who I thought were (as you say my brothers and sisters) didn't give a rats ass about me... non of them questioned why my contract was not being renewed after 5 years. They just cared about getting their shows to air... good luck on the picket line and be patient with them, as they are finally realizing that they don't really matter to the corpse.

9:35 a.m.  
Blogger cbcworkerbee said...

Thanks. It sucks what happened to you. You don't sound like a loser to me.

9:53 a.m.  

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