My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, September 24, 2005

More Ratification Questions

It just occurred to me (based on past experience, which I've largely blocked out of my memory) that there should be no picketing once an agreement is reached, and during the ratification process. So the downside is we still don't get full pay 'til we're back inside, but the plus is we should continue to get picket duty pay, but without having to picket.

Again, this is merely speculation on my part; I'd really like someone in the know (in an official capacity) to chime in on how it will work exactly. I suppose there might be some reluctance on CMG's part to contribute to such a discussion, as it might serve only to get people's hopes ups only to be dashed when this latest Knight in Shining Armour stumbles and falls off his horse. But it will all have to be sorted out eventually, so we may as well know now.

I imagine also that (as anonymous indicated earlier) neither side knows exactly how it will work until they sort it out amongst themselves. But surely some stuff (such as do we get paid for not picketing during the ratification process) must already be known.

Anton from Toronto, where art thou?


As I mentioned before, my gut feeling tells me that we'll be looking at ratification in a couple of weeks. (Of course, my gut feeling told me this lockout would never happen in the first place...)

So how will ratification work and how long will it take? Robin Rowland posted on the subject a while back:

"Both sides, management and union have to ratify an agreement. There have been cases in Canada where management, not the union, has rejected an agreement that was reached at the negotiating table. Given the sad record of Senior Management at CBC this could be a possiblity in our case."

And here's what one correspondent says on the subject:

"This is a difficult question because this is not a strike. At any point the CBC can unlock the doors. I understand that the CBC will not do this. Once there is a deal, it would have to be printed (maybe translated) in some form. Printing won't take long, but translating could.

Then there must be meetings everywhere to explain the deal and a secret ballot. Let's try to estimate: d-day the contract is done; d-day plus 1 it is ready and on its way to the members. Say day 2-5 for meetings (it could be longer); Day 6 & 7 for the vote; Day 8 and 9 to count. There would have to be a return to work deal as well. For example what shows will be on the different networks (remember this is traditionally season change, patricularly in TV).

In units that don't work 9-5, who works what shift? Remember all the schedulers are also out. Say day 10 & 11 for that.So it could be a while. Of course the CBC could make it go quicker if they accept the bargaining committee's recomendation to accept the deal and open the door. But don't hold your breath for that!"

If anybody else has any thoughts on the matter, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, September 23, 2005

To Sleep, Perchance to Picket...

Relaxin' on the line...

For some reason I didn't really look forward to picketing ten hours today.

Go figure.

A friend said to me today, "You know, I'm surprised you aren't one of the people blogging this whole thing."

I had to laugh.

There was lots of good news on the line today, which left me feeling optimistic. I got into an argument with one of the security guards about when this thing'll all be over; he was rather less optimistic than me. I said two weeks from today we'll be looking at ratification. He said no way this thing'll be over in less than a month. So I caught him by surprise with a flurry to the solar plexus, decked him with a left, and as he lay there on the ground squealing like a stuck pig, I said, "Is that "no way this thing'll be over in less than a month" enough for ya?

Ever since I been the Champ.

Okay, maybe I've been listening to too much Q-107, not to mention been picketing too long today.

But the conversation did raise an interesting question. To wit, how long will the ratification process take? If any CMG officials (or even that Anton from Toronto guy) happen to read this, would you mind taking a moment to explain to this poor uninformed picketer how that all works? My security guard pal insisted that the process would take all of two weeks. I can't believe that. My questions are, once a deal is reached, what exactly happens then? How long does the voting take? And how long until we are back inside, assuming the deal is ratified?

I look forward to your response...

Our Illustrious Negotiating Team

The entire CMG negotiating team, with Arnold Amber, left

Lockout Beard Craze Sweeps Nation

Television AD Bob Graham sporting his bristly Lockout Beard

Ladies and gentlemen, it's not too late to get in on the lockout beard craze sweeping picket lines across the country. This may be a particularly appropriate time, what with it starting to get cold in places.

It's Official!

Nora Young sporting her High Fashion Picket Captain's hat

That's right, it's official. A Picket Marshall advised me today that Picket Captains no longer have to wear dorky orange hats.

(You were hoping for a different official announcement, perhaps? Try me again in about two weeks...)

Cold Feet Speaks

Off to picket another ten today... while I'm gone, check out this thoughtful post from Cold Feet about the Terry Fox business.

I daresay my mother would agree.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Picketing the other day I ran into this fellow at the corner of Front and John. He was this athletic looking guy in his late twenties and he wanted to know what was going on. So I told him, and he peppered me with questions, all of which I answered patiently. It sounded like he was an American; he wasn't clear on who the Prime Minister was, but he was obviously intelligent and interested.

He told me he'd only been in town three weeks. It occurred to me that he might be a professional athlete, so I asked him what he did for a living.

He said, "Believe me, you don't want to know."

Which of course just made me curious, so I asked him again, and he still wouldn't tell me.

We spoke some more and then I asked him his name. He hesitated, and then said, "Tux."


"Yeah, Tux. They call me Tux." He laughed. "The Ultimate Experience."


After hearing me out, Tux said, "All right. I understand. Tell you what, I'll make a few calls, see what I can do. I'll have this sorted out in no time."

And that's why I'm not worried.

'Cause Tux is on the case. It's guys like him that really run the world, you know.

Gigalos and the Illuminati...

The Russians Are Coming

Stumbled across this fascinating webpage recently, apparently commenting on a post I wrote near the beginning of the lockout.

Seems we've attracted the attention of the Russians.

I couldn't make heads or tails out of it:

Интересные моменты возникают, когда узнаёшь детали нынешнего выдворения на Си-би-си (простите за славянофильство в переводе слова lock-out, которое оказалось не по зубам даже квебекцам).

Et cetera et cetera... so I filtered it through a web translater and now it's all much clearer:


"Interesting moments appear, when you learn the details of present vydvoreniya on SI-BI- SI (you prostite for slavyanofil'stvo in the transfer of word lock-out, which proved to be not on the teeth even kvebektsam). 1. effectiveness against the social contract. Surprising thoughts you read in bi- ravine of one of the "workers", as entirely in the modern manner he does not call cbcunplugged.com being fought for the rights.

From one side, you understand the honestly mentioned gap between the last year's (1 billion) and present (750 million) money, given out (earned?) by corporation. From other side, it is offensive for the cruelty of capitalism. The author expresses irritation with respect to do-30-tiletnim. -30-tiletnim. which- de they do not see the difference between the contract and constant basis. According to note, young only begin career, they should support family, but mean- de, "fellow is free to be poor".

This argument remains incomprehensible: they reproach young in the cheapness, in the dumping. Entirely, probably as immigrants? But is there in those selection? The author goes further, reproaching unripe in the absence thoughts about the pension, about the privileges. In young- de much health, and money by them will send the parents. The young do not have house, for which it is necessary to pay mortgage.

Sufficiently strange arguments, as if they described the advantages of the tribe of mladogo. And nevertheless, and everything after all.... Bitterness of the deserved worker, the quotation: sufficiently alluringly to fit to its own circumstances. What, strictly, this such, social contract? About which did write John loke? 2. is it possible to compare this situation with the change of management the BBC and with the counterrecoil in journalism in Russia? Are certain, scales entirely different and, most likely, I simply force hysteria, as Soviet newspapers spoke."

I don't know about you, but I'd like to know more about this "tribe of mladogo"...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Big Bad Board

People are freaking out about The Board's statement backing Rabinovitch.

It doesn't mean a whole lot.

The Board does not outrank Rabinovitch... he's not accountable to the Board... and he's pals with the Board. So they wouldn't do anything about him anyway, even if they were so inclined, which they're not.

The statement is just an exercise in solidarity. They're just closing ranks for the benefit of the public. I don't imagine they all support Rabinovitch one hundred percent behind closed doors; they just feel they have to in public.

My favourite sentence in the statement is this: "One of the issues that has attracted most attention, the employment of contract staff, in our view, has been seriously misunderstood and misrepresented."

They're actually right about this one. It has been seriously misunderstood ( by the Board) and misrepresented (by Bobby himself).

Yep... I'm afraid the odds of the Board having received an unbiased view of this situation are about as likely as my wife being impressed upon finding me on the computer when she gets home from work tonight, which should be any minute now (he wrote typing really really fast)...

But the most important reason why (I feel) this statement means nothing is that, ultimately, it is not the Board that is going to hold Rabinovitch and his cronies accountable. Nor will it be you or me; sadly, we will have as much clout when we get back inside as a lobster in a fishing boat (except in a fiercely passive aggressive kind of way).

No, it will be the Opposition parties in Parliament that are going to call for Rabinovitch's head, and perhaps his neck and shoulders too, backed by portions of the Canadian media and the Canadian public. If they do so vigorously enough, and if Martin has wit and character enough (big "ifs" I grant you) then we may live to see that sonuvarabinovitch turfed someday in the not too distant future.

Mind you, turfing people like Rabinovitch and his cronies is nothing more than a game of musical chairs at best, involving lofty positions in other, less public institutions, along with platinum pensions and swank country retreats.

And then of course there's the question of his replacement.

But you'll be happy to know that I've already spoken to Mr. P. about that.

Stalag CBC

When they first started in big with the security guards at the Jarvis Street facility in Toronto employees starting calling the place "Stalag CBC."

I thought about that today when I heard a manager comparing the atmosphere inside the Broadcast Centre to Nazi Germany. Apparently the Senior Managers are brooking no dissent. If you're a manager, you must toe the party line. No talking back. No hard questions. No dissent whatsoever.

So here's the trick if you're a manager inside Stalag CBC right now. You must walk a tightrope between placating the current fascist regime, and being able to elude a lynching when this thing is all over. No mean feat, and there are a few managers I'm aware of right now that will not survive post-war CBC.

Because you know the current senior management team is toast. It's only a matter of time until they face a reckoning for their actions. And when they go, they will take a lot of people with them.

Collaborators, if you will.

If you are a manager inside and you've done what you were asked to do and nothing more, then maybe you stand a chance of surviving post-war CBC. If I were you, I would get out to the line and check on your employees. Pick up the horn and call a few of them. But you'd best be sincere or such tactics will blow up in your face. Even if sincere, you'd best prepare for some frosty receptions. People are anxious, depressed and pissed.

Good luck.

As bad as it is out here...

... I'm glad I'm not you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Conversation With Mr. P.

Mr. Prime Minister, I beg of you. Please consider someone from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's rank and file for the post of CBC President.

No, Mr. Prime Minister, I'm not kidding. 'Cause it has to be someone who understands what it is that we do. Not some neo-con with dollar signs for pupils. Oh yes, Mr. P, I am well aware that Canada's public broadcaster must be fiscally responsible. But that does not mean that it has to APPEAR to be efficient at the expense of ACTUALLY being efficient.

Yes, Mr. P., I do apologize for the caps; I realize that caps constitutes shouting in blogland. It won't happen again, I promise.

You see, Mr. P., if the President of the CBC doesn't know anything about broadcasting, if he or she doesn't understand at a fundamental level what it is that we do, then it is difficult if not impossible for us to work together. We can't relate to the President and the President can't relate to us. Yes, that most certainly is the case right now. We're at cross purposes, you see; the current President wants one thing and we want another. We want to be able to broadcast quality programs to the Canadian taxpayer and he wants only to destroy public broadcasting in this country, depriving of us of our livilihoods in the process, quite possibly resulting in the starvation of our children and that of our pets too, poor little puppies, kittens, hamsters...

I beg your pardon, Mr. P., but as you can see I'm quite emotionally invested in all of this; why I myself have a pet iguana that very nearly expired during the last labour dispute... or was it the one before that...?

Yes Mr. P, I will try to stay focussed. You see, being fiscally responsible is not wrong. But being fiscally responsible at the expense of doing what it is that we're supposed to be doing defeats the entire purpose! Forgive me, sir, but we are in the business of broadcasting, to Canadians for Canadians. A high standard of broadcasting, I might add, considerably higher than what taxpayers are currently getting for their money.

This whole lockout just proves my point. If the President cared a whit about quality broadcasting, then that's what we would be doing right now. It's what we would have been doing all along, especially during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. We would be broadcasting quality programs WHILE negotiating... I mean, have you heard that the President's not even going to let us back in to work until AFTER an affirmative ratification?

Oh you have heard that.

From Tod Maffin's blog.

I see.

Yes, Mr. P, I do apologize for the caps again. But alas, it is clear to me that the current President does not care a whit about providing quality broadcasting to Canadian taxpayers.

Yes, Mr. P, I use the word "alas" in ordinary conversation all the time.

No I did not know that it dated from the year1260, and was originally an expression of weariness rather than woe. I daresay both definitions are applicable today.

So, Mr. P., that is why I think we need a President from within the ranks of the CBC. We need someone who appreciates and understands our culture, someone who can foster our morale, who cares passionately about public broadcasting, and who may be relied upon to run a tight ship with a firm hand on the tiller.

No, thank YOU, Mr. P.

I look forward to chatting again.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Burying the Lede

Note: My pal Laurence has pointed out to me the correct spelling (and meaning) of this post's title... hence the change

Back from a couple of days off with the family in which I managed to completely forget about the lockout. Well, except for everytime I purchased something. And the one time I mentioned it in a fit of guilt at not tipping somebody in a bathroom (don't ask... it's a long story, and not nearly as sordid as you're thinking.)

On Saturday I did a long post about the negotiations, and buried somewhere in the middle I mentioned that the senior management committee wouldn't let us back in until after ratification. So I get home today Monday and Tod's got the story up as breaking news, from some other source, which left me feeling somewhat, um, bemused.

Please understand that I neither fault nor blame Tod for this... just to be clear, I thank Tod for many, many things and blame him for nothing. Also, Tod had lots more info in his post than I did. And I certainly don't expect Tod or anyone else (um, except for Mom) to ferret through every single line of this blog in the remote chance that there might be some useful piece of info in it. No, I blame myself, because I buried that piece of info inside a long post (guess that's what they mean by burying the lead... hey, I ain't no journalist) and I have a bad habit of creating a post, posting it, and then writing about three more lengthy posts on the same day and posting them too.

And then this "Anton from Toronto" character comes along and I feel I have to post his stuff, too.

Like, really. Who's gonna wade through all them posts?

I mean besides Mom.

(Okay Mom, maybe, MAYBE I'll wear the damned hat.


So what have I learned? That the next time I feel I have something Really Important to post I'll post it... and nothing else (no, not even something from this Anton character), and keep it up there for three days in a row. I'll post it in large, orange, blinking neon letters, wait for an excerpt of it to appear in Tessa's blog and for it to be read aloud on the Jay Leno show...

...and then I'll THINK about maybe posting something else.

And I figure I'll have about as much luck with that as I'm having with this whole "not eating chocolate" thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In a Word...

Somebody referring to themselves as "Mommy" sent me this:

"Aw, come on, wear the orange hat!!"

Let me just think about it.


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.