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Reflections from Jonathan Spence, Outgoing President, CBC/Radio-Canada Branch

This is a final note for my 2017-2019 mandate. My hope is that I left the union and you, its members, better off. In my term I have held to some basic principles. Those principles are to raise the floor for members and to take the interest of all members into account when making decisions. My core belief that drove those principles is that to be successful as a union we need to focus on supporting our colleagues rather than ourselves.

Those principles and that core belief played out in many ways over my term. During collective bargaining, which made up more than half of my term in regard to resources, energy and time, we sought to improve on items that were driven by the membership, that had the effect of raising the floor. We focused on improvements for members who are temporary employees, a fair relocation reimbursement program, reducing the spread of the extended work-schedule past 5 days, northern benefits improvements and others. These were all areas where members appeared to be treated unequally in some way. By locking down improvements on these items we brought up the floor for those who may have been disadvantaged by rules that could be used unevenly.

At the National Grievance Committee, and in discussions with the Corporation on many matters, I have always looked to ensure that decisions that are made in regard to individuals or groups always benefit members at large. It is a difficult position to be in, when a member wants an arbitration on a weak grievance case. If the case is lost, it could impact all future cases. We have made those difficult decisions and refused those cases. Bargaining decisions were also made with this principle in mind.

I focused and always acted on behalf of what I felt was best for the greatest number of members during my term. By providing myself as an example, I hoped that other elected officials and members better understood the importance of focusing on the group rather than themselves or their particular location, classification, or department.

It’s this belief that has driven me to be so active over the last 15 years to support temporary workers. It is the most basic situation to understand. Temporary workers are generally the most vulnerable and if they are mistreated, that mistreatment will be visited upon others in short order. By raising them up we raise ourselves up. The best approach is a collective one.

I was looking forward to another term to enforce the new collective agreement, which will be printed shortly. I spent so many months working on it with a great team and I respect their hard work and dedication: Carolyn Dunn, Harry Mesh, Sujata Berry, Pauline Pemik, Naomi Robinson, Stephany Laperriere, Pierre Millette and staff reps Karen Wirsig and Olivier Roy. However, it was not to be and I respect that and will continue to support the work of CMG where I can to support the principles I have mentioned.

I encourage members who have little or no experience in union committee work to step outside your comfort zone and please apply.  There will be a committee call-out shortly.  The new group of elected officials will need your support.

It is worth mentioning, albeit briefly, that the staff union CUPE 1281 became politicized during this election to forward their bargaining goals. This was picked up and amplified by some candidates as a criticism of current CMG management. This is the worst sort of interference in a union, propagated by some of our own members. There are numerous examples of where this kind of scenario can lead and they are all extremely negative. I encourage members at large to pay attention to the CUPE 1281 bargaining with the newly elected CMG officials. I know I will be.

Lastly, I want to thank some elected members. Kam Rao, Jordanna Lake and Andrea Sellinger have been dedicated table officers of the National Canadian Media Guild and extremely hardworking throughout their term. Also I want to thank those members who have contributed to the union by asking tough questions, putting the needs of others above their own and for filling out the surveys, voting, and all other manner of upholding the union structure and maintaining its vitality.

Happy holidays and see you at the CBC/Radio-Canada in the New Year!

Sincerely and in Unity,


Jonathan Spence
President, CBC/Radio-Canada Branch

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