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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Worth Repeating

Anton from Toronto attempted to clear up some misconceptions on Ouimet's blog recently. I think his remarks bear repeating.

"They have a budget and can only hire so many people. So if the union is protecting some useless wingnut hired in the 80's, where does that leave the new kid?"

Unlike the backbiting procedure for managers, there are very clearly laid out mechanisms for turfing useless wingnuts in our contract. The union will fight you every step of the way, to guarantee that the rights of the individual are being protected, but if the wingnut really is useless, he/she will be gone at the end of the procedure. If you're honest you should also realise that there are few useless wingnuts left in either CMG or management. The last 20 years of cutbacks has guaranteed that. But there will always be a couple of them that are better at laying paper trails to protect their collective asses than doing their jobs. I believe that management is in a better position to do this, but I'm biased.

"The CMG knows that when these old guys in the union are removed, or when they retire, the union itself will expire."

You're right, and CBC will be expiring right behind. You need old guys, middle age hot shots, and energetic young kids. It's the central point in this argument we're having. We think that you need more people on staff. Before I was 25, I was thrilled to take on any contract, but when I'd earned my chops, I went looking for a stable staff position. I'm dying to train my replacement. But it takes at least 2 years to learn to do radio SFX. It's not like doing Foley, there are no schools, and if you're on a yearly contract, you'll want to learn something a lot less arcane. Mine is a rather extreme example, but most of the jobs at CBC are pretty specialised. Who else is doing long form Radio Documentaries? We've just about destroyed our comedy development, but there are still a few experienced comedy producers waiting to train new talent. Sorry for being radio heavy, but that's what I know best, and I know that the CHUM group isn't about to invest in the years of experience it take to produce a year of Ideas programs.

"None of us ever counted on you to find us jobs anyways."

You've got a strange idea of the function of the union. The union does not possess any super powers. We normally can't force CBC to change their policy. That's what we're trying to do now, and as you can tell it's very hard to do. Our main function is to educate and protect our members rights. We try to negotiate a contract that's fair to both the Corporation, and the employee. In a healthy enviroment the union and the employer work together to create an enviroment that is productive, and enjoyable. I was here almost 20 years before my first strike, then I got slammed 3 times in a row. CMG went for over 50 years without ever having a strike or lock-out. The union hasn't changed that much, but upper management, and more importantly, our budget has. Our budget has changed our focus. Instead of focusing on good programming we seem to be more concerned with selling or renting everything possible, and commiting to the shortest possible employment commitments. That doesn't read well, but I never claimed to be a writer.

"Do the heads of the CMG have jobs other than being the heads of the CMG?"

Please tell me you are not a CMG member, nor do you work for HR/IR. The thought that you're over 16 and are asking this question is too depressing. Everyone who gets elected works for CBC. Some positions get a lot more releases than others. The only people that don't work for CBC are the Union Reps. Dan Oldfield, Bruce May, people like that. The union pays them as professional negotiators to negotiate, enforce and interpet contracts, and a lot of other work as well. Most of the CMG reps did work at CBC at one time, and just kept working on more union stuff till they took a job with the union. But they work for the members of CMG.

All the top decision making positions are held by CBC employees who give up evenings, weekends, and are sometimes released from work temporarily to be Union Executives. If you are a CMG member in Toronto, you can spend part of your picket time taking a UNION 101 course. If you ask nice, or use an alias, managers could probably take it as well.


Blogger Laurence said...

What IS it about having a history of working with sound effects makes people so damnably level-headed.
Or is my outlook totally corrupted by my corporate history?
Perhaps we were a hotbed of common sense which is why the Corp had to make the entire department (indeed concept) disappear.
My profound thanks to all my past and present colleagues who seem to be doing SO much to contribute positively to this entire unfortunate affair.
May the 'spoodge' be with you!

9:20 p.m.  

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