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

Friday, September 16, 2005

Lockout unnecessary, says federal minister

A federal cabinet minister who used to chair an informal "CBC caucus" of MPs says he doesn't think the corporation needed to lock out its workers.

Andy Scott, the MP for Fredericton, told local members of the Canadian Media Guild that he doesn't understand "why we can't be receiving services while we're waiting" for the negotiating committees to reach a contract.

Scott met with four locked-out members of the Guild at his riding office in Fredericton. He said he hopes to meet other Guild members if he can schedule a courtesy call to the picket line for next week, before he returns to Ottawa for the resumption of Parliament on Sept. 26.

"I would like to expedite the process" of pushing the two sides towards a deal, Scott said. He noted that his constituency office has received more calls from people complaining "with intensity" about the lockout than about rising gas prices. Of those calls, about 94 per cent are running in favour of the workers, with a tiny minority favouring management's position.

Scott says he will raise the Guild's concerns in Ottawa. He was told about the sorry record of labour relations under current CBC executives, and also heard the Guild's view that the corporation should not be receiving its money from Parliament when it is not providing programming to Canadians.

"I will take to government in a very strong way that a quick resolution is critical, and that I don't understand why we can't be receiving service while we're waiting," he said.

Scott also invited Guild members and supporters to attend his annual constituency barbecue, being held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at Wilmot Park, near the Gazebo.

First edition of FREDERICTON UNLOCKED a success!

Terry Seguin and the CBC Radio team returned to the airwaves this morning with 40 minutes of the kind of programming CBC listeners have been missing. Terry and Vanessa Blanch hosted Fredericton Unlocked, which will air every Friday at 7:30 a.m. on CHSR 97.9 FM. We'll feature a half-hour (or more) of interviews and information about stories taking place in the Fredericton area.

We have no way of measuring the number of listeners who tuned in this morning, but several people who passed the picket line later in the morning said they'd heard it. "It was so great to hear Terry and Vanessa this morning," one woman yelled as she pedalled by on her bicycle. We can tell you that, from our point of view, it was equally great to be bringing you a radio show again. Another measure of listener interest is that when we held a phone-in contest for Harvest Jazz and Blues tickets this morning, the phone lines filled up immediately with callers.

You can hear the show by clicking on the link under "podcasts" in the column at right, or by clicking right here.

Special thanks to Melissa Montgomery and everyone at the UNB campus station, CHSR, for making this possible. We'll be back on the air every Friday at 7:30 a.m. until the lockout ends.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thoughtful words of encouragement

The local Nurses union dropped by today and left a few thing for us. Among them was a poem that they wrote with heartfelt words of encouragement. Click here to read it.

Tory MP: CBC is not Wal-Mart; Rabinovitch should testify

Longtime Conservative MP Greg Thompson says he will work towards having CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch testify before the House of Commons Heritage Committee when Parliament resumes later this month.

Thompson met on Thursday with locked-out members of the Canadian Media Guild who work in Fredericton. Parts of his riding, New Brunswick Southwest, receive the CBC signal from Fredericton.

Thompson told the Guild members that Rabinovitch is "not answerable to anybody" since he's been filling in as chairman of the CBC board for most of this year. The board is supposed to oversee the performance of top executives like Rabinovitch.

"He has an obigation to appear before the Committee," Thompson said, "because the Canadian people are entitled to know where the CBC is going. We can't allow Mr. Rabinovitch to hide under the furniture for the next five or six weeks."

The government has named a new chair, Guy Fournier, whose appointment must be reviewed by the Heritage Committee. That should provide the committee with a rationale to call Rabinovitch as a witness as well, Thompson said.

On the issue of demands by CBC management to hire new employees on contract, Mr. Thompson remarked that "You can't run a national broadcaster like Wal-Mart." He said one of his biggest frustrations with the media is being interviewed by reporters who don't understand the history or context of a story.

Thompson told the Guild members he's been holding back on a news conference, about a probe into the use of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown, until the CBC returns to normal operations. He said the CBC broke the story and is the only broadcaster with the ability to pursue it.

Some of his constitutents who live near CFB Gagetown believe they developed serious health problems, some fatal, because of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides on the Base.

A CBC investigation led to an angry public meeting with top defence officials earlier this year. It was televised live across the country by CBC and led to a federal probe of concerns among military personnel, veterans and nearby residents.

Thompson said he misses that kind of coverage now, given he's joined the fight against plans for LNG terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay, just across the water from the small town of St. Andrews.

"Without the CBC, you can't ratchet stories on LNG to the national level. Only the CBC has the ability to take a little local St. Andrews story and put it on the national news," Mr. Thompson said.

You can now hear The Gardening Phone-In: The Lockout Edition

We've added a link to allow your to listen to our special lockout edition of the popular Gardening Phone-In with George Scott. It's hosted by well-known morning newswoman Vanessa Blanch. You can find the link under the "podcasts" heading at right, or you can click here.

The Guild loves the festival

Like many people in the Fredericton area, members of the Canadian Media Guild look forward every year to the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, the city's premiere cultural event. CBC is a sponsor of the event, and every year the partnership between the corporation and the festival is great for both parties.

This year, things have changed. Because management has locked out members of the Guild, it has forced the cancellation of the annual jazz and blues breakfast, at which festival musicians perform live at the Boyce Market as a fundraiser for local school music programs. The show, which is usually broadcast on Information Morning, is not taking place this year.

Because many festival-goers are CBC listeners and viewers, Guild members will be setting up information pickets at some festival venues. We have no intention of disrupting shows or stopping people from enjoying them: In fact, we hope this year's festival is a success despite CBC management's best efforts. We'll be handing out leaflets explaining the issues in the dispute and asking people to e-mail members of the CBC board.

Today a few of us picketed during the set-up of the Blues Tent at City Hall. Two technicians based at Radio-Canada in Moncton, where there is a different union that is not locked out, showed up to set up their mobile recording truck to tape some concerts for broadcast. The technicians refused to cross our picket line until a manager from Moncton, Benoit Quenneville (with the beard), came to Fredericton to escort them through the line.

(This scene unfolded under the watchful eyes of two private security guards hired by the CBC. That's one of them in the yellow shirt. Since festival organizers and the mayor of Fredericton greeted us warmly during our picket, we can't understand why CBC felt the need to watch us in this way.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Day 31 pictures

Lori Wheeler and Terry Seguin prepare a few sandwiches for the gang.

Day 31 pictures

A bit of a treat for the guys and gals on the line this morning; barbequed breakfast!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We want YOU ... to think twice about the CBC

One of our technicians has taken what appears to be a CBC recruitment video and has done a creative re-editing to reflect the reality facing people who may be thinking of careers with the Corporation. Click here to Play/Download.

Transcript of Moncton Radio commentary

Dr. Douglas Mantz from Sackville, N.B. recently aired a commentary on the CBC lockout at the Moncton Radio Canada plant. This is a link to the transcript of that commentary.

Day 30 picture

It was a quiet day on the line today. Here Barb Roberts and Deb Logue enjoy a coffee in the early morning hours. Notice the wall of mist over the Saint John River in the background.

And then there were three....

Lori Wheeler showed up on the line this morning with two more sock puppets. Here she is mesmerizing Paul Leger...actually, it takes far less to mesmerize Paul!!

On the left is Lucy Lockout, and the right is Paul Picket. Lockout Larry, shown further down, made his appearance on Day 26.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Day 29 picture

And finally, the littlest visitor today. This is the 3 week old granddaughter of George Andrews, one of our television editors and trainers. She got quite a bit of attention.

Day 29 picture

More visitors at lunchtime! Here, from the Daily Gleaner, are Forrest Orser, Lori Gallagher, Steve Llewellyn, and Shannon Hagerman. They are members of the Fredericton Typesetters Union, Local 664 (Newspaper Guild), and provided the chicken lunch. They also walked and talked over their lunchbreak.

Day 29 picture

Everyone enjoyed a treat of a chicken lunch today compliments of our colleagues at the Daily Gleaner.

Day 29 picture

This was a busy day. There were many visitors to the line and a general meeting. Here Gerry Whelan talks with Catherine Veysey and Mark Gray.