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Message from branch president Colin Perkel

Dear Colleagues and fellow CMGers:

It’s been a busy start to 2007, so along with a belated happy new year, here are some of the things you should know about:

Retroactive Pay
You have likely heard that you will soon receiving roughly a week’s extra pay. The money flows from an agreement reached in the wage re-opener round more than a year ago (thanks to the bargaining committee of Karine Fortin, James Stevenson, Scott Edmonds and Kathy Viner).

That deal provided for a two per cent wage increase in 2006 to take effect on December 31st. But … and it’s a nice but … the deal also meant that the increase would be retroactive if the federal government reduced CP/BN’s pension payments for the year. The payments were reduced and therefore the pay increase is retroactive to January 1, 2006. The increase is wholly independent of the current round of bargaining.

Shift Premiums
Another change to your pay structure already in effect flows from the previous full round of negotiations and relates to shift premiums. The new premiums have been adjusted to reflect the principle that the worse the shift, the bigger the premium. The changes do not increase the overall costs to the company. Based on your feedback, we introduced an overnight premium of 8 per cent. The weekend premium has risen to 6.5 per cent and continues to be paid in addition to any night or overnight premium. The night premium, which remains at 7 per cent, is now only paid for the number of qualifying shifts (with a minimum of two) in a given week. Averaged and IT employees also qualify for the premiums under the same rules as scheduled editorial employees.

It’s important to note we are still hammering out the exact legal wording of the shift premium structure for insertion to into the new collective agreement. Once that is done, we will send the language to you. Please watch for the memo so we can avoid any uncertainties or misunderstandings over exactly how the new system works.

Many of you have asked what the Guild’s position is on the introduction of video to Canadian Press/Broadcast News. Numerous concerns have been expressed related to workload, competing demands on reporters and editors, and quality control and editorial integrity. We have been discussing these issues with the company for several months in a variety of venues, including at the bargaining table. What is obvious is that video, as an integral part of the new media landscape, is here to stay. The company sees it as a commercial imperative. However, we believe it cannot simply be dumped on reporters and editors who already face competing pressures to deliver print and radio journalism.

Among the points we have made and with which management is in essential agreement:

? We must receive needed training
? Demands on us are already high and should not simply increase
? Management must set priorities and make expectations clear
? Quality of work should not suffer
? We need a level of compensation that fairly reflects our increasing responsibilities and value to the company

For now, carrying and using a video camera is voluntary. Many of you across the country have already done video with good results. But it’s clear that in the very near future it will no longer be voluntary. Please keep us informed about your experiences with this new component of our work.

National Executive Committee
Your Guild’s top decision making body met for the first time in person this year on February 3 and 4. The 2007 budget that is fast approaching the $6-million mark was finalized. I’m also pleased to report we ended 2006 with a slight surplus. As an economy measure, we will be recommending to scrap the joint presidents council meeting in favour of an expanded biannual convention. This must be approved by a member-wide referendum, so watch for information coming to a mailbox near you. The Executive had a spirited discussion about how freelancers, who currently have their own branch within our union, fit in when their connections to both their employer and to the Guild itself can be tenuous. It’s a difficult issue to resolve and one that we will continue to chip away at in the coming months.

Finally, a search is in full swing for new national offices. The move, to take place in late fall, is partly in response to a directive from the Calgary convention last year that the Guild’s office be accessible to people with disabilities.

Please keep an eye out for future bargaining committee communiqu?s and other Guild memos as this now chilly season progresses. And, as always, please let your local executives, myself or Kathy Viner at the Guild office, know what’s on your mind.

Best regards,
Colin Perkel
CP/BN Branch President

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