The voice of members of The Canadian Media Guild, Fredericton.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

CBC management responds to comments, not complaints

Early last week, my mother-in-law went to the CBC feedback page and selected "complaint," then sent in her criticisms of the awful coverage that's been on since the lockout began. She received no reply.

Today, she selected the "comment" category and sent the same negative feedback. She received this automated reply:

Thank you very much for your comments regarding our current labour situation and the alternative programming we are offering. We will share your thoughts with our senior management team and our contingency programmers, and will answer any questions you may have as quickly as possible. For updated program schedule information, please visit

In other words, CBC is responding to "comments" but not "complaints."

Have some fun and try it yourself!

Meeting with the STUdents' Union Pres.

By Michael Caissie, STU Class of 05

This week I took time off marching on the picket line in Fredericton to meet with the St. Thomas University Students' Union president, Sofia Rodriguez. The meeting was a few days in the making, and during that time Sofia was able to stop by the picket line to talk with some members of the Fredericton unit of the Canadian Media Guild but she still had many questions about what is actually going on.

Sofia is the first of a few association presidents that we would like to meet at STU. The reason we have decided to approach these reps is that CBC Fredericton has a unique relationship with the university. During the school year a number of journalism classes are held in the basement level of the CBC plant which STU has rented. These classes will resume late next week.

In my own personal experience (being a former student of the journalism program at STU) this partnership is invaluable to students and the industry, as new journalists are trained in a newsroom environment and are able to move upstairs to intern and train under the guidance of the CBC workers. In a sense, Guild members working at CBC become teachers to these students,and damn good ones at that.

It is because of our committment to the development of our profession and industry that the unit has decided to allow students and their professor, Daryl Gray (a former CBC employee and therefore no stranger to labour disputes), to cross the picket line for their classes. Students will then be allowed into STU's part of the building to attend their classes and use the STU facilities for their own personal projects.

Students will be asked to recognize the picket line, and acknowledge the workers who are locked-out and fighting for all sorts of reasons. But perhaps they would be most interested to learn that the CMG is also fighting for people who may soon find themselves in my position: a
recent graduate, up to my neck in student loans, and looking for a secure job doing the work that I love before the creditors come calling.

It is a very disheartening position to start life in the 'real world' knowing that I have paid over $40,000 to train myself to work for someone who would seemingly want to exploit my labour when it is convenient for them. And on top of that be able to throw me away like something
dug out from the depths of their ear. (This may sound exaggerated, but note that I said 'seemingly'... I like to think that I have more hope in the CBC than that...)

I believe in public broadcasting and the good that comes from it and there is no other place in the world that I would rather be, whether it is inside working with forty of the most talented people around, or outside standing in the rain, fighting with forty of the most talented people around for what we believe in. It has all been an educational, learning experience for me.

It was with this in mind that I went to Sofia to explain our situation and show how her support for the CMG is indeed support for the students that she represents. She was very receptive to the idea of supporting the local CMG members but stopped short of offering her support to the Guild as a whole until she could research the CBC's side of things and meet with the rest of the students' union executive.

"We are thankful and proud of all of the union workers who recognize the importance of education," said Sofia, but added, "I just don't think that it is my position on students union to go all the way one way or the other without extended debate with the rest of the council."

Sofia told me that she will be discussing the issue with the executive and will be getting back to me in the next few days. I have offered to address the Students' Union at the weekly meeting which is held every Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Holy Cross conference room. It is an open
meeting so everyone is welcome to come.

How Katrina and the blogs messed up the management plan

There's an interesting analysis on a Toronto-based blog about why CBC management's strategy has been such a disaster, and why, despite that, it still may be some time before we get a deal. Click here to read it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Lockout blogs worthy of your attention

If you're just joining us here, there are some others we want to recommend to you. First, Sounds Like Canada host Shelagh Rogers has begun a cross-Canada caravan and she is posting to her blog as she goes. Take note of Shelagh's thoughts on the "Best of" Sounds Like Canada that's been airing on CBC Radio during the lockout.

Then there's Alison Crawford's lockout blog from Winnipeg. Alison scored the blog scoop of the week when she obtained internal management memos telling CBC managers to not be nice to picketing workers. A second memo later reversed the policy-and Alison got a leak of that one, too!

Finally, the king of lockout bloggers, Tod Maffin, always seems to be up to date with all the latest info. And the Guild's own news site has a daily round-up of lockout news.

Still more hope

Keep those fingers crossed.
Things seem to be progressing according to the latest bulletin from CMG:

After restarting negotiations this week, the Canadian Media Guild and CBC management have reached agreement on 12 articles.
Among the articles agreed to are:
- hiring and promotion
- jurisdiction
- turnaround
- technical change
- new work methods
- internships
- statement of qualifications
- out-of-country work
- parental leave
- transfer and relocation
The two sides will continue to maintain contact on Saturday and Sunday.

The more sidebar items that get agreeded to now means the quicker this dispute can end once the major issue is finally resolved.
As we say in golf... forward movement is good!

Welcome to our blog

Many of you will be coming to this site for the first time after seeing our ad in Friday's Daily Gleaner. This site was set up almost three weeks ago, when CBC management decided to lock out its workers who are members of the Canadian Media Guild. This lockout is affecting 45 employees in Fredericton, including on-air personalities such as Terry Seguin, Anita Sharma and Barbara Roberts, as well as the producers, reporters, technicians, camera operators and others who bring you your local programming.

This site has two purposes: It's a way for local Guild members to communicate with each other (hence the daily posting of pictures from the picket line), but more importantly, it's a way for us to bring you our perspective on the lockout. You'll find links to the right that will give you information on the issues, and that will tell you how you can lobby for a settlement. There are also links to other lockout blogs, and audio links to various podcasts. These are "digital broadcasts" that you can download and listen to on your computer. As of this date, we've done one, with another planned in the next week.

The site is updated several times a day, so please check in regularly, and feel free to post a comment if you like.

As we wrap up the third week of the CBC lockout, we'd like to thank the many people who've been supporting us.
If you've been honking and waving while driving past our picket site at the top of Regent Street or dropping off goodies or donating to our strike fund... you've made this difficult and frustrating time a little easier and little more pleasant.
We've set up a web page called

You can reach it by clicking above or on the right-hand navigation bar.
Apologies to anyone we've missed. Please let us know and we'll add the names to our page. Again, we really appreciate your support.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Day 18 pictures

Don Lockhart from CBC Goose Bay walked onto the picket line with ice creams for everyone. He used to work in our plant back in the late 70's, and shared a few stories. Don is still on vacation, so hasn't begun to feel the money pinch. He stayed for a few hours and chatted with all of us.

Day 18 pictures

Michael Stuart catches up on some reading while basking in the afternoon sun. It is a nice change from the past several days of rain.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Talks constructive, Guild says

The Guild issued this statement just minutes ago:

Members of the bargaining committees for the Canadian Media Guild and CBC management met today and talked about a number of issues. The talks were constructive and the two sides will meet again this evening.

Keep those fingers crossed!

Federal Liberal caucus chair promises to lobby ministers

Tobique-Mactaquac Liberal MP Andy Savoy has told Fredericton members of the Canadian Media Guild that he will personally contact two federal cabinet ministers in an effort to encourage a settlement in the lockout and get CBC programming back on the air.

Savoy, who chairs the federal Liberal caucus, met on Wednesday afternoon with locked-out Guild members Richard Robinson and Jacques Poitras, both of whom live in his riding, and Roy Gjelstad. The meeting took place at the Keswick Ridge Community Hall.

Savoy said he will contact Labour Minister Joe Fontana to try to speed along the appointment of a special mediator, something that has been discussed for almost a week now. Savoy will also speak to Heritage Minister Liza Frulla about the delay in appointing a new chair of the CBC board of directors. (This is a crucial accountability issue. Because the position is vacant, CBC president Robert Rabinovitch has been acting as chair, meaning he is overseeing the very group that is supposed to hold him accountable to the taxpayers.)

Savoy says he knows that many of his constitutents miss their CBC programming. "I speak for everyone in the valley when I say CBC is a crucial part of our lifestyle and of our quality of life," he told the Guild members. "The sooner things get back to normal, the better."

Our first casualty: Danielle Nerman

CBC Fredericton is losing its first employee as a result of the lockout. Danielle Nerman, seen here with technician Curtis Abbott, has accepted a job with Rogers Radio. Danielle has been a non-permanent employee at CBC for more than a year, and she made a perfectly understandable decision in favour of stable employment. She brought a lot of life and energy to CBC Radio and TV in Fredericton and in Saint John, and we will miss her. This is a clear example of why we need the public's support to fight management's plan to shift to more non-permanent employees: Because it drives away good employees and, in the end, harms the quality of programming.

Day 17..Moncton

Our motley crew. Rear from left to right are Curtis and Ellen Abbott and Bob Mersereau. Front are Daryl Brown, Sharon Hudson, Anita Sharma, Jolene Gallant, Mark Gray, and Mike Cassie.

It was a long but rewarding day. It was great to see the show of support and to meet with friends and colleagues from other locations.

Day 17..Moncton

Kate Letterick presented a donation to Bob Mersereau before we left. She and the others in the Moncton plant dipped into their pockets to try and offer some support. Thanks guys.

Day 17..Moncton

Lurking nearby in the bushes was this sight. I can only presume that we were so threatening that extra security measures were taken. These guys look similar to the thugs (dubbed "The Men in Black") that CBC hired during the Technician lockout 2 years ago, but are a little less intimidating.

Day 17..Moncton

A few of our friends from Saint John attended the rally. From left to right are TV journalist Mike Holmes, Radio technician Don Witt, and videographer/editor Roger Cosman.

Day 17..Moncton

Chants of "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rabinovitch has got to go!!" and a french phrase translated to "We want to work!" were voiced for the approx 3 hours that the line was up.

Day 17..Moncton

The CMG Atlantic rep, Gerry Whelan was on site to rally the troops.

Day 17..Moncton

A view of a portion of the picket line set up in front of the Moncton Studio. In total, there were approximately 50 people, with groups coming from as far away as Edmundston.

More thank-yous ...

The UNB employees' association made a large cash donation to CMG Fredericton this week, for which we are very grateful. The money will help pay for supplies on the line, advertising in the Daily Gleaner, and other things that help as the lockout drags on. We greatly appreciate this gesture!

Earlier today Mike, the owner of the Great Canadian Bagel franchise near our office, dropped off an urn full of coffee and a tray of bagels with cream cheese. Thanks, Mike!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Preliminary talks

It's too early to get our hopes up, but this e-mail from the Guild represents at least a glimmer of hope.


The Canadian Media Guild and the Corporation have agreed to return to the table tomorrow to begin preliminary talks on the unresolved issues. The parties, through their chief negotiators, have had some good discussions over the last few days and have agreed it's time to get the negotiating committees back together.

Smaller groups from both committees will begin the work on Wednesday morning. It is hoped the smaller committees can create the necessary dialogue that will move us towards reaching agreement on the key issues at the table.

The ultimate goal is to restart formal negotiations in order to reach a collective agreement. We welcome the return to the table and believe that, with a spirit of co-operation and compromise, an agreement can be achieved in the near future.

There is no doubt in our minds that public pressure from you, our viewers and listeners, has helped get things to this point. This isn't the time to relax: Keep calling your MPs and voicing your desire for a return to regular programming. It really does help!

CBC management's claims are wrong, says rival nets' unions

One of the claims management is making in the current negotiations is that it needs the power to hire more temporary employees to compete with other networks in the multi-channel universe.

Not so, says the union at those other networks.

Day 16 picture

The "Captain" Roy Gjelstad dressed for the weather in his nautical attire. He was stopped by tourists at the City Motel just across the street, and they inquired about their reservations. Best guess is that they thought he was the desk clerk and could assist them.

Day 16 picture

Another dreary day on the picket line. Here Jennifer Sweet, Bob Mersereau, and Sarah Trainor stand in front of our new HQ; donated by Alan White.

George Scott's Gardening Phone-In: The Lockout Edition

We are planning our next podcast and we are trying to put together a special edition of the popular Gardening Phone-In from Information Morning. We are still working out the ways to get your questions to George for an ad hoc "show" next Thursday, Sept. 8.

For now, if you have gardening questions for George and you're registered with Blogger, you can send us your questions by clicking on the "comments" link below this post. Watch this blog for more information on the special lockout edition of the Gardening Phone-In.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Day 15 Picture

Yet another t-shirt design. This one is based loosely on the CBC UNPLUGGED image we had painted in the snowbank back in 1999. The TV includes the CBC Kids sad logo.

These shirts have become quite successful, with seven or eight at our site.

Day 15 Picture

Paul Leger standing in the rain. To pass the time, we tried to think of songs that contained the word "Rain" in the title. We must have collectively come up with 25-30 titles....We're not bored!!

Day 15 Picture

So much for the sunshine. This is a view of what the traffic would have seen as they drove by this afternoon. Hidden under the umbrellas Kevin and Jolene. At one point there were six umbrellas grouped together.

Day 15 Picture

Ellen Abbott sports another t-shirt design based upon the postcards we received. Hope the artist responsible for the guy in the picture dosen't mind.

Note to Guild members: Picket in Moncton

Plans are afoot to picket at CBC Moncton on Wednesday. If you missed this morning's meeting and are interested in going (or if you were at the meeting and are unclear how to sign up), talk to Kevin, Don, Jacques or Sharon on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Our colleagues in the north have a blog

The ten CBC and Radio-Canada workers who are locked out in northern New Brunswick have their own blog, I discovered this morning. You can link here, or by using the link in the right-hand column.