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A year of hardship and improvement – and CMG-CBC Committee reports

Be careful what you wish for.

After launching right into my new job in January, and almost three months of pretty steady travel, I was getting a bit weary of airports and shuttle buses. “I really wish I could take a pause,” I thought to myself in mid-March.

Well, like most of you, I’ve hardly left my house since. What a slog.

Despite the real hardships so many members have endured, we’ve supported each other, worked to ensure our collective agreement is respected, and had other successes.

Here are some highlights on what we achieved together, and what’s ahead:

-Secured sick leave days for temporary employees
-Obtained “wellness” days for employees to help them during the pandemic
-Persuaded the corporation to suspend a controversial employee survey about pension and benefits
-Appealed to the Minister of Heritage for targeted funding to convert temporary employees to full time
-Spoke out publicly against the temporary cancellation of local television news programs
-Met with federal opposition parties to discuss concerns about paid content on CBC platforms
-Supported our members who spoke out about Tandem.
-Created a “Journalism Caucus” to allow members to speak publicly about editorial related issues
-Held our first ever virtual Town Hall on Diversity and Inclusion
-Surveyed members about systemic racism in the workplace and our union
-Have started Diversity and Inclusion training for members and CMG staff
-Asked for Unconscious Bias training for ALL employees
-Demanded improved security training for all news crews working in the field

Please take a look at the reports below from your colleagues serving on CMG Committees at CBC.

Thanks for all your work during extraordinary circumstances.

I would also like to thank our CMG staff for navigating us through so many challenges this year. They kept the office running, supported our joint committees, and were on the front lines to help members during personal and professional crises.

All the best of the season,

In solidarity,

Kim Trynacity
CBC/Radio-Canada Branch President, Canadian Media Guild


Health and Safety
Committee members: Faith Fundal co-chair, Josee St.Onge, Andrew Shipley

This year was heavily focused on COVID-19 and the CBC’s response to keep employees safe and healthy. It remains an ongoing point on the agenda. One of the aspects being looked at currently is how to better support employees working from home and how to keep employees safe in the field. Communication remains a challenge, as employees don’t necessarily access information on iO and public health directives change regularly.

The committee also worked on non-pandemic issues. Policies regarding psychological injuries, teleworking, and an update to the corporate health and safety policy are still in the works. On the procedure side, the committee is also working on updating the Risk Assessment Program and PPE Regulation.

Some housekeeping points are also still on the agenda. They include issues around noise protection at work and cyber intimidation. Cyber intimidation and harassment in the field have been flagged as increasingly problematic. Several items were closed and removed from the agenda this year. They include health and safety work around travelling to the Olympics, the tidy desk initiative, and ergonomics while working from home.

Joint Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)
Committee members: Saïda Ouchaou-Ozarowski co-chair, Sujata Berry, Adrian Harewood, Khaleel Mohammed

2020 will be a year noted for the upheaval in race relations in society and certainly that was felt at the CBC. The events of this year and the advocacy of our members led to significant movement on efforts to increase the momentum for diversity and inclusion at the CBC. The CMG JEDI committee members supported the advocacy of BIPOC employees to push for greater representation in higher positions. And there is now a commitment from management to increase its targets for hiring and promotion of BIPOC employees as well as women and people of varying abilities.

Despite the many new initiatives much remains to be done. The CBC continues to have a problem retaining BIPOC employees. To address that, CMG JEDI members continue to push for improving the work experience of people from equity-seeking groups by pushing for the implementation of programs like mentorship and career development programs targeting employees in equity-seeking groups.

National Grievance Committee
Committee members: Kim Trynacity co-chair, Trent Peppler, Brent Cousland, Maria-Carmen Gutierrez, Pierre Millette

We referred a few grievances to arbitration this year, and so far all but two cases were settled before arbitration actually began.

An arbitrator ruled in our favor when the corporation fired an employee without taking into consideration their known mental health condition.

In another case, two members were finally awarded payment for overtime they incurred almost three years ago. These are just two examples of cases that ought to have been settled well before they reached arbitration.

On the positive side, lately we’ve seen a willingness from CBC/Radio Canada to consider solutions which benefit all of us. Let’s hope it continues.

We have also filed policy grievances on the corporation’s arbitrary decision to increase our pension contributions, and the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on surplus sharing and Supplementary Health Care Plan. We are asking the corporation to return 0.1% per year of salary deducted from member pay over a ten year period, as per the MoA.

Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB)
Committee members: Kim Trynacity, Vik Adhopia, Murray Cullen, Nola Keeler, Nathalie Bastien

We are butting heads with the corporation over its refusal to provide information to us on the estimated $40 million Supplementary Health Fund (see policy grievance above). At our last meeting, we passed a motion demanding the corporation be transparent to the CCSB about the state of the fund. It was created through a Memorandum of Agreement between CBC and CMG in 2009.

The Special Assistance Fund (SAF) provides financial help to members and pensioners who incur costs not covered by our healthcare plan. Until recently it was evaluated by our committee members, and processed by the CBC. Now the corporation wants to hand SAF administration to Canada Life. We’re opposed to that, and have suggested the Pensioners National Association (PNA) take it over.

Job Evaluation
Committee members: Tamara Baluja, Ron Boileau, Brad Childs, Farzad Fatholahzadeh

The National Joint Job Evaluation (JE) Committee met six times this year. Much of the discussion centered on the seven modified job descriptions written by the corporation in the context of the Job Strategy exercise. Those modified job descriptions are for the following classifications: Associate Producer, Broadcast Technician, Desktop Support Specialist, Reporter/Editor, Senior Communications Officer, Senior Designer and Video Producer. The committee has concluded discussion on four of the job descriptions. We expect discussion on the remaining three to wrap up early in the New Year.

Processes for file referral to the National JE Committee were finalized and communicated to members and management earlier this year. The committee also continued to work through Job Evaluation challenge files. Three files were escalated to the Job Evaluation Appeal Panel for resolution.

Employee Assistance Program Board (EAP)
Committee members: Anita Adams, Marie-Hélène Robitaille, Shane Ross

For EAP, the big news is the launch of Organik, a free online wellness studio available to members. It offers a series of workouts and seminars to help people stay healthy and fit mentally and physically.

We also have continued with EAP Fridays, online webinars that deal with a range of topics to relieve stress and increase motivation. In terms of global EAP utilization (Counselling + LifeSmart Services), numbers remained fairly stable (March to September). When we look at the Counselling services category, data also remained stable for the same period of time.

However, the tendency regarding the reason why people consult has changed: more people have called the EAP for stress and anxiety issues compared to the same period last year.

So far and overall, it’s fairly stable, but we have good indicators that it could change rapidly.

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