My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Not Sure What to Call This One...

From EmployéJetable's Blog... cool pic, if a tad pessimistic...

Do the Right Thing

A friend said to me on the line, "The man behind this lockout really needs to head back to the bunker with a Kalashnikov and just do the right thing."

Can't quite bring myself to condone this sentiment. Actually, let me satisfy my lawyers by stating unequivocally that I am not in favour of suicide on the part of anybody, short of, say (insert favourite historical evil person here).

The part of the quote that I do whole-heartedly endorse is the "Do the Right Thing" part. More than just a great movie, the sentiment is put forward in Robin Rowland's fascinating Fort Confusion post, and it is one that I shall echo here.

Because really, folks, it's time to stop messing around. It's time to do the right thing. Of course, there are many right things to do, not the least of which would include getting the heck off this computer and going outside, it's looking like a really great day out there, but I'm talking about ending this stupid lock out. Oh, did I say stupid? I meant to say stupid.

By this point Bob, Dick and George must know that it's stupid, and the only course of action left to them is to do the right thing (and I don't mean throwing a garbage can through a plate glass window). In the off-chance that one or all of them is reading this (what are the odds?) and they remain a tad confused, I shall endeavour to fuzzify the muddification (a nickel to the Foth for that one).

Simply put, the right thing is to end the lock out, contract or no contract. Robin suggests an interim contract, and I'm down with that. Under no circumstances can the lock out be allowed to continue past October or the corporation is toast. Surely I don't have to elaborate why that is the case. (Sigh...) Okay, the reason the corporation will be toast if we're still out past October is because the hockey broadcasting will suck, the Fall Launch will be totally messed up (if it isn't already), everybody will be listening and watching elsewhere and the word "disgusted" will be the first thing on everyone's lips should someone dare to broach the subject of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in polite company.

Guys, swallow your pride and end the lock out. Now. Before it's too late. You don't even have to admit that you were wrong. Just do the right thing and maybe, if you continue to behave, we'll still talk to you when we get back inside. Really.

Otherwise I'm afraid it's going to have to be the silent treatment.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Muzzle That Blogger!

You'd a thunk I'd a run outta stuff to say by now. Alas, it's not the case.

Early on the picket line yesterday morning (over delicious pancakes and sausages whipped up by the local NDP) I got to talking to an old friend who'd dropped by to visit. This was a fellow who'd worked for the CBC for... gawd, he must have started in the fifties, or sixties at the very latest. A contemporary of Alex Frame. ('Course he doesn't look a day past fifty... okay, sixty.) Worked contract all those years, although it must be said that this was by choice. Anyway, they unceremoniously let him go this past year despite his wealth of experience and competence. After all those years no announcement, no party, no nuthin'.

Yeah, the CBC values its employees. Uh huh.

So anyway this fellow was telling me about money being wasted. Before they let him go, they commissioned a bunch of stuff from him, paid for it, and then never used it. I'm not talking disc shows, I'm talking about material that cost a pretty penny. Stuart MacLean of Vinyl Cafe fame produces Vinyl Cafe with his own company. According to one source, CBC Radio twisted his arm to do this, it wasn't Stuart's preference. Stuart (I'm told) apparently feels that it costs CBC Radio more to do the Vinyl Cafe this way. Why they wanted this arrangement is a mystery. Money frittered away.

I've written before about the CBC's absolute mania for tweaking floor plans. I know that this obsession is ostensibly about recouping money with real estate profits, but from what I hear it ain't workin'.

So this is what I'm thinking. I'm thinking that if you look at this whole lockout on its most superficial level, it's about Rabinovitch and company trying to operate in a fiscally responsible manner by making their workforce as flexible as possible (never mind that it hearkens back to serfdom and the middle ages... the times they are a changin', all right: backwards).

But if you get a few neurons firing upstairs you can see that it's not really Rabinovitch's fault, or Stursberg, or even Smith (bear with me here, soon you will see that I'm not really going all Benedict Arnold) because really it's the federal government's fault, for not giving the corporation enough money to properly function. Yes, you knew that all along, and now you're smiling indulgently at l'il ol workerbee, what with his tiny little bee brain and all.

But that ain't it. The truth (well, okay, the truth as I see it today, which could well be the result of a tiny little bee brain after all, not to mention too much sun and strawberry wine) is one layer deeper (not to mention seriously telegraphed a few paragraphs ago...) It's what my friend was talking about, and it's what I was going on about in the floor plan post I mentioned earlier. (Which means that I'm repeating myself... sorry.)

The truth is this: I will not go so far as to say that we don't need more money from the federal goverment. We sure as hell do. We need a lot more. But in the meantime it sure seems to me that the CBC manages to piss a lot of the money that it does have away.

And if I'm really honest (damn that strawberry wine) probably some of us employees are guilty as well. How many times have I hit up my managers for more gear? Gear that I feel I "must" have, that I "couldn't make do without." Another recent conversation on the line involved chairs... this fellow told me that every year he has to fend off people trying to give him a new chair. "The old one still works," he tells them. "Piss off."

'Course then there's the problem of "separate budgets" and "end of the fiscal" spending. No... no, I will not get started on that.

Not today, anyway.

It's Good Exercise, If Nothing Else

After my obnoxious lecture advising people to watch their eating and smoking habits during the lockout, several people confessed to me yesterday that they have indeed gained four or five pounds, staying home moping or spending too much time in front of the computer. Picketing like the folks above (this view from Wellington Street, the Broadcast Centre's east side) effectively reverses this trend.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Yesterday's Picketing...

Yesterday was another ten hour day. I was in a good mood most of the day, but around four o'clock started feeling kind of wonky. I realized I wasn't drinking enough fluids, and the water situation on the line isn't one hundred percent ideal, although much of it is my own fault. They have water coolers, but you have to bring your own container, which is cool, except I either A. forget to bring one, or B. destroy or lose the one I do have. Especially if it's a styrofoam cup I'm carrying. One lap and that thing's crumbs in my hand.

So I bought a milkshake and a bottle of water from a nearby ice cream truck and soon felt much better. The milkshake's won't become a habit; trying to follow my own advice and retain my girlish figure, such as it is... and I am aware that this last paycheque was half a paycheque, and represents the last pay we'll get in a while. So I must perforce become more fiscally prudent.

Plus I must say that the ice cream truck guy was not friendly, which is strange. I've bought ice creams from this same fellow relatively often over the years, and he's always been friendly. But I had my picket sign on this time and he was about as frosty as his treats. Some anti-labour sentiment there? Or has he lost business what with the locked out employees cutting back on their treats? If so, he would do well not to alienate the customers he does have.

About midway through my day I volunteered to be a picket captain. They were happy to have me, although a spot didn't open up until 6pm. Had you viewed the Live Outside CBC Toronto Cam between 6 and 8pm you would have seen me picket captaining happily away, hobnobbing with burly security guards Biff and Dirk, who were only too happy to reveal their martial arts experience and share their war stories, in which spine injuries and dislocated jaws figure prominently. Injuries not necessarily restricted to the security guards. Apparently this is the same company that attempted to intimidate CEP members the last time round. I said they seem much more approachable this time. Biff informed me that it was the nature of the company back then to be more intimidating. Now they are kindler, gentler thugs.

Curious, I asked Biff what would happen if we all foolishly got it into our heads to storm the entrance, perform some kind of a sit-in. There's only three or four of you, I pointed out. He told me that they can sense when something of that nature is brewing. They'd bring in about fifty more guys in heavy protective gear and "gear up." They would not be afraid to knock some heads. Indeed Biff, who described himself as a "nice guy," appeared to positively relish the notion of physical violence. "It's the adrenaline rush," he confessed.

I met several inside workers, plenty of managers. They seemed to make it a point to talk to me, in direct contrast to the famous Fred and Krista memo circulating recently. The memo came up in conversation, of course. One manager reminded me that the memo was written before the lock-out began, and he believed that it was sent to a small group of employees. In any case, everybody seemed to feel that it was a woefully misguided memo, indicating an unfortunate lack of common sense, and few (if anybody) are following it.

Before I hit the train for home a friend told me a story about his uncle, who was a dock worker in St. John New Brunswick in the years between the wars. When a new guy came in to work, they'd ask him to sign up as a member of the union. If he refused, they'd pick him up and throw him off the dock. If he cried for help, they'd say, "Give us your hand, brother, and we'll be happy to help you."

After which they'd help him out, dry him off, give him something warm to eat and drink and send him home to his wife and kids. Usually they came back the next day and signed.

Or so the story goes.

Famous Blunders

I was thinking today, out there enjoying the sunshine and a day full of amiable conversation with old friends whom I rarely get to spend this much time with, that locking out a rich, well organized union in the summer has to be right up there with fighting a land war in Russia.

So far this lockout has been everything I hoped it would be. Lots more time with my wife and kids, gettin' things done, hanging out with friends, enjoying the weather.

You're going to have to do better than that, Dick.

The World is Paying Attention...

We have attracted the attention of The Guardian. And I'm not talking about the one in Charlottetown.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Suggestion Box

1. Better signs. Okay, it isn't the most important thing on the planet, but it isn't like we have tons of other pressing business on the picket line. Take the time to create a clever sign, something that will draw the eye. Maybe somebody will remember it, or snap a picture of it, help get the word out, unlike our thousand other generic signs. How about a team of clever artists, producing such signs? Maybe we ought to have a contest. A "best sign" contest.

Hey, it's just an idea.

2. Volunteer to be a picket captain. We have a shortage of picket captains. Being picket captain is fun. You get to chat with burly security guards. They'll tell you all about their old injuries, inflicted doing battle with rather more aggressive picketers than us. Reminding you that your job as picket captain is to stay cool, and keep the peace.

3. We need more water on the line. Somebody buy more water. Lots more water. There should be water there all the time. Lots of it. Water. I'm serious.

Either that or milkshakes. I had one today and it really hit the spot.


Forget the water. We need more milkshakes on the line. Somebody buy more milkshakes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I just want to say that I like John Gushue because he keeps linking to me. Thanks John! Oh yeah, and he has a great, informative blog too. Plus he's from the Rock. What more can you ask for in a person?

Thanks to anyone else who's linked to me, I appreciate it. (That means you, Tod...)

There are a lot of great blogs out there on the lockout, over time perhaps I'll link to more of them, but you pretty much just have to go to Tod or John's page to access them. I linked to Aigle's page because I do have to admit I like the writing on her page, even though I was hurt that Tod picked her as his fave (sniff!) We should have a blogging party sometime just to meet one another when this is all over in February.

Okay, bad joke, sorry. But I stand behind the blog party idea.

Another page I like is Matt Watts, but that's just because I'm a big Matt Watts fan (even though he won't link to me, the bastard! Yeah, I know, he's just being impartial. He won't link to any of us. The bastard!) Matt, if you're out there, I just wanna say: you were always my all time favourite Kid in the Hall. ;-)

An Ugly Piece of Business

Found this on Locked Out Employee 100000223's site... hope you don't mind me reposting it here, LOE. LOE's best guess it that it's Fred Mattocks and Krista Harris... a memo sent shortly before the lockout:

"On the Friday conference call, we were asked whether managers were expected to visit the picket lines in their locations.

Some of us remember a day when spending a few minutes with picketers was encouraged. Those days were a very different situation than the one we're in now.

It is expected that designated Location Chiefs visit the picket line a couple of times of day to liase with CSM and with the picket captains and to gauge the mood on the line.

However, there should be no other managers or other non-CMG staff visiting the line, nor should there be any attempts to "improve the mood" on the line, by providing food or drink, for example. It's very important, if there is a lock-out, that we bring a quick resolution to the work stoppage. A quick resolution will be helped by picketers focussing on the reality of their situation. Making things more comfortable for the picketers does not support this goal.

Fred and Krista"

Draw your own conclusions, folks. My conclusions are not happy ones. It would appear to lend credence to this story.

Only We Can Kill Us

Reading over other people's blogs and talking to people on the line, I see that people are smoking a lot. Maybe they had resolved to smoke less back when things were cool; maybe they had managed to quit altogether. Now, not only are they smoking again, they are smoking more.

I don't care if you smoke, I really don't. It's your business, and to tell you the truth I actually like the smell of second hand smoke, so that doesn't bug me. I've never been a smoker, so I can't pretend to understand the nature of the addiction; it's probably way more powerful than I can imagine. The closest I can come to understanding it is this: if somebody told me tomorrow that I had to steer clear of chocolate, I don't know if I could do it. I really don't think that I could. In fact I will probably eat some right after this post. Just a little bit. A tiny little bit. And then maybe a bit more.

I understand that it's none of my business, and that you can do with your body whatever you please. You have every right to tell me to piss off and I will, I will never mention it again. And the only reason I bring it up is because somebody close to me recently died of lung cancer and the memory of it is fresh in my mind. It was horrible, the effect on them and the effect on those around them, and now whenever I see somebody with a cigarette, or a cigarello (you know who you are), I think of my friend dying horribly of lung cancer. That's all.

Yes, I know that I'm a hypocrite, and that I'm going to get diabetes with all the chocolate and wind up on insulin, blind with no legs. I understand that. Nobody likes a lecture and I'm sorry, I'm sorry for lecturing.

But I'd like to point something out. The reason you're smoking again, and the reason you're smoking more, is because of CBC senior management (I almost typed "CBC senile management"... think I might be on to something there)... senile management has just gone a way out of their way to make your life miserable, and my point is this: it's bad enough that they've locked us out. Must we allow them to kill us as well?

We need to take care of ourselves during this ridiculous situation. We need to go easy on the donuts and comfort food. We need to hang on to our resolve, not just to survive the lockout, but to survive it with our bodies and spirits intact.

Senile management may be able to lock us out. But only we can kill us.

Laurence Fiddles While CBC Burns

Laurence Stevenson performs at Lockstock, Monday Aug 31

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Workerbee Bristles at Constructive Criticism

This fellow appeared to take exception to my criticism of the Guild in my post a short while ago entitled Struck Work. Allow me to make my sentiments clear here.

Littlejohn said...
It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and say the Union should have done this or that. But you should have been involved or motivated enough to effect the results. Quit yer whinning?In reality, the union is only as active as you are, so get off yer duff and do it. If you are already up to your neck in being busy, one of the most destructive blows to moral is someone in leadership blowing off steam about someone elses jurisdiction.
4:44 PM

cbcworkerbee said...
I am no more obligated to support the union unconditionally -- a union that has betrayed me twice --than I am to support CBC management. It happens that I do not sit on the sidelines; I picket at least twenty hours a week AND I cover the lockout with this blog, with a large pro union bias despite the odd criticism. Had I known about this incident in time I might well have done something about it. You'll note that I've done something in retrospect; I brought it to everyone's attention.

Make no mistake, I DO support this union. But like CBC management, my wife, myself, my friends, and everyone else on this planet, it is not beyond reproach, and should not bristle at the occasional bit of constructive criticism.

How Do You Feel?

People often ask me on the line, how do you feel? I've walked the line often enough to know that how I feel on the line is pretty much however I want to feel. If I want to feel discouraged, I feel discouraged. If I want to feel good, I feel good. So yesterday on the line I felt good. There are several ways to make yourself feel good, and I'm not talking about substance abuse (unless you include Tim Horton's coffee and the odd Timbit).

I got to talking to one smart picketer and we agreed on several points. That you have to keep your spirits up. That time goes faster if you talk to interesting people. That if you angle your head just the right way the shadow of your baseball cap makes you look like you have a conehead. We also concluded that far from being discouraged, we should feel privileged to participate in a useful fight, a fight that may not only help us, but may help others in the future, that may well improve someone's standard of living a century from now.

I love the argument that the union ought to get with the times, because they times they are a changin'. A changin' how? Back to the industrial revolution? As my picketer friend said, this move towards contracting may be a trend, but if so it's not a good trend! It's one that must be fought, lest we find ourselves with no guaranteed jobs, no pensions, no benefits, no nuthin' in exchange for our hard work, our dedication, our lives.

So when people ask me how I feel, I tell them I feel good. After which I adjust my cap and pose a question of my own:

"Do you think my shadow makes me look like a conehead?"


LockStock was a big hit on the line today. Here Russ Haymen and a fellow whose name I didn't catch perform Jethro Tull's "Mother Goose" from Aqualung. I could spend every day on the line if it simply consisted of listening to people do Tull covers all day long...

Dogs Locked Out!

I'm told that dogs have been forbidden from the Toronto picket line. Even cute little ones like the one pictured above. Apparently they frighten people. Myself I think this is probably a good thing... the concrete around the Broadcast Centre is shredding my feet, even through a pair of relatively new sneakers. I can only imagine what it might do to a dog's paws after several laps.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bloggers Unite!

Fellow Blogger Matt Watts on the line in Toronto

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Struck Work

Apparently last week a well-liked manager did a bit of a bad thing. He took a CBC Record's gig -- a gig that was to be done by CBC staff -- outside the corporation and recorded the session with a non-CBC recording engineer. The non-CBC recording engineer was a friend of a CBC employee currently on the picket line. The gig went forth in an IATSE hall, with AF of M musicians, which begs the question: Huh?

The Guild was alerted to the situation but did not send picketers to protest the recording. Which begs the question yet again: Huh? The manager in question defended his actions by saying that if he hadn't gone ahead it would have cost the corporation many thousands of dollars. Staff in his department currently on the picket line were not happy with either him or the Guild's response. In their opinion he should have cancelled or postponed the recording, and when he didn't, the Guild should have sent picketers.

The lock out continues to take its toll on friendships, a lock out that increasingly begs the question: Huh?

In Case There Was Any Doubt

The Manager and His Best Friend

A manager is inside the Broadcast Centre and his best friend is picketing outside. After his shift, the manager comes outside, spots his best friend, and begins to walk with him. He does not carry a picket sign, naturally. They walk together, doing laps around the Broadcast Centre for awhile, and they lose track of time.

The next day when the manager reports for work he is called into his boss's office and given hell for picketing.

It's stupid. They're just friends, hanging out. Of course we're friends with most of the people inside, and they're friends with us.

Why pretend otherwise?

Picketing in Comfort

Some picketers get pea soup on the line. Others get Shiatsu massage... this kind fellow stayed for hours and hours on Saturday helping picketers relax.