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Summer update – Our union’s work at CBC/Radio-Canada

As we get into the middle of summer, I want to inform you about the progress made at some of our CBC Branch committees recently, share a few thoughts on developments at CBC/Radio-Canada and on the priorities of CBC management with regard to our members’ work. Please find our branch reports on the following matters, below:

– New CBC President touring work locations

– Collective Bargaining

– Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB)

– Pay Equity
New CBC President touring work locations

As the new CBC/Radio-Canada president Catherine Tait makes her rounds at your locations throughout the summer, it is important to let her know what matters to you about the work we do at the public broadcaster, including the challenges that you and your teams face in doing quality work. A face-to-face discussion is one of the most effective ways to have an impact on the issue. 

If you are under-resourced or have too many things to do in a shift, let her know. Of course letting her know what is working is equally important.

As far as the budgeting priorities of Senior Management are concerned, we haven’t seen much  change.  Despite the fact that we have shared our concerns at the Corporate Steering Committee, we have not seen renewed commitment to the work many of our members do. 

The reinvestment in CBC/Radio-Canada made by the federal Liberal government seems to be disproportionately benefiting the independent producers the CBC contracts out to, rather than the work our members do at locations across the country and at News Network in Toronto. 

Reinvestment will continue to be a top priority for us in the coming months. 

Collective Bargaining

I am excited to announce that Pauline Pemik has been appointed to the CBC/Radio-Canada branch bargaining committee in place of Nasr Ahmed who has accepted an organizing position with our wider union CWA|SCA Canada. Pauline is an Indigenous member and her inclusion on the bargaining committee is consistent with a by-law amendment that passed at the recent CMG convention.  A producer in Iqaluit, Pauline attended our last joint union-management employment equity committee meeting and was a great asset in our discussions in that venue.

I will provide more information, in the next issue of this update, on our upcoming negotiations at CBC/Radio-Canada scheduled to begin in September.

Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB)

New rate cuts for Long-Term Disability, voluntary insurance coverage

The Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB) has approved a series of rate reductions and premium subsidies for three different employee-paid benefits.

Our Long-Term Disability (LTD) plan has been in a surplus position for much of the past decade and we have been gradually using that surplus to provide inflation coverage for disabled members who aren’t automatically given an annual cost-of-living increase, as well as a providing all CBC employees enrolled in the LTD plan with subsidized premiums.

Our rate with Great West Life (GWL) is up for renewal as of July 1, and in negotiations GWL has agreed to lower our premium rate by 4.2% to 1.437% of salary. As well, the CCSB will use part of the existing surplus to continue subsidizing the premiums so that employees will pay 1.037% of salary for the next three years.

The CCSB also has agreed to set aside $4 million of the surplus to continue providing cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) of up to 2% over the next five years. Members who became disabled before 2002 and are still on LTD receive an automatic COLA.

The idea is to prudently draw down the $11 million surplus over time through the inflation protection and premium subsidies. We will review the LTD plan yearly to make sure the reductions still make financial sense.

CBC employees and retirees who participate in the Optional Life Insurance plans will be seeing a 15.7% reduction in their premiums. The change comes into effect as of July 1 for employees and January 1, 2019 for retirees. On top of those reductions, the CCSB has approved the continued use of surplus funds to maintain a 60% subsidy on the premiums for both groups. We will review this annually.

At the June CCSB meeting, we dealt with the optional Accidental Death and Dismemberment plan, which also shows a surplus. Great West Life has agreed to reduce premiums by 15% as of July 1, and that new premium will be subsidized by 50% for the coming year. Fewer than 3,000 CBC employees (or a third of the workforce) now participate in this voluntary plan.

Pension update 

During the June meeting, the CCSB was presented with the 2017 results of the CBC Pension Plan and the Group RRSP. Our defined benefit pension plan continues to be in solid financial shape (99.9% funded on a solvency basis, 143% on a going concern basis for 2017)  and the funds offered under the Group RRSP had positive returns last year. More details on the CBC plan can be found at http://cbc-radio-canada-pension.ca/

Guidelines for the Special Assistant Fund to be reviewed

The CCSB also reviewed and approved many Special Assistance Fund (SAF) applications. It also agreed to review the SAF guidelines. As a reminder, the Special Assistance Fund was created to provide assistance to members and dependents dealing with exceptional expenses not covered by the insurer (GWL) or by the public health care system. To learn more about the SAF, please contact Olivier at olivier@cmg.ca. The guidelines are available here: http://www.cmg.ca/en/cbcradiocanada/special-assistance-fund/

Workplace Wellness Fund guidelines available soon

The CCSB also approved the guidelines of the Workplace Wellness Fund (WWF). This fund aims to fund local wellness initiatives coming from any CBC employee who wishes to organize an activity (sport, social, etc.) that would improve the wellness of his/her colleagues. These guidelines will be shared soon.

Au revoir Jon Soper!

This meeting was the final one for Jon Soper as a CMG representative on the CCSB. Jon’s been on the committee since his first term on the national executive committee in 1994. During almost 24 years on the CCSB, he served more than 16 years on the CBC Pension Board of Trustees as well, not to mention numerous sub-committees. This summer, he is retiring from the CBC and will start to draw that pension he spent years stewarding.  Jon will be missed greatly by all his colleague on the CCSB.

Your representatives at the June meeting of the CCSB:

Annick Forrest
Olivier Desharnais-Roy (CMG staff representative)
Jon Soper
Gaynette Spafford
Jonathan Spence

Pay Equity

CMG members of the Joint Pay Equity committee met with CBC representatives, in early July, to discuss concerns over disparities between salaries paid to male and female employees at the Corporation.

The issue was raised in a Globe and Mail article published in February 2018 (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/article-male-cbc-hosts-earn-almost-95-per-cent-more-on-average-than-their/).

CBC/Radio-Canada members of the committee were unable to meet until summer. They provided us with figures specific to CMG members, which showed that globally there is little difference between the salaries paid to men and women in most job categories. 

However, there is a disparity in the largely male dominated category of video producer. The CBC has promised to investigate further by doing what’s called a statistical “deep dive” which will take into account seniority, skills and experience within the CBC to discover why there’s such an obvious wage imbalance.

The CBC’s data did not take into account additional remuneration paid to employees, in the form of overtime buyouts, additional remuneration (ad rems), etc.

When the CMG did its own analysis of salaries, including those additional monies, it discovered that the difference between male and female compensation was larger, particularly in the job categories of senior and executive producer.  In some cases, it was noted that male employees appear to receive five to seven percent more than their female counterparts. 

CBC /Radio-Canada has lowered to the pay gap at which salaries are investigated by the pay equity committee to a 3-4% range, down from 10%.

On behalf of the Pay Equity Committee:

Wendy Martin
Kim Trynacity
Belle Puri
Terri Monture (CMG staff representative)

Whether you are able to take some time off or are at work, I hope you are able to enjoy the summer!

Jonathan Spence, jonathanspence.cmg@gmail.com

President, CBC Branch, Canadian Media Guild (CMG)
On behalf of the CBC/Radio-Canada Branch Executive Committee

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