Alliance Atlantis employees join the Guild
After a slightly unusual process, the Guild has certified its third new bargaining unit in the space of a year. Operations employees at Alliance Atlantis Communications in Toronto follow employees at VisionTV and Sun TV (formerly Toronto 1) to become the newest group to join the Guild. Alliance Atlantis was the only remaining major broadcaster in Canada without a union.

The Guild applied to the labour board for certification last summer, submitting cards signed by a majority of employees in the proposed unit. However, the company alleged irregularities and requested a representation vote. The Guild denied the accusations by management but the labour board nonetheless decided to call for a vote, which took place on December 7. Fifty-three per cent of employees voted to join the Guild.

Tentative agreement at CP/BN

The Guild’s bargaining committee at CP/BN

The Guild reached a tentative agreement with Canadian Press/Broadcast News for a 2% wage increase on December 31, 2005 and an additional 2% increase by December 31, 2006. The two sides were negotiating a wage re-opener after employees accepted a 2% wage rollback for 2005 to help the company deal with financial difficulties. That rollback will come to an end at the same time as the first increase kicks in, meaning that employees will enjoy a 4% boost to their paycheques beginning in January. Permanent employees will also get an extra two days of vacation next year. The results of the ratification vote will be announced December 21.

You never know when that Guild card will come in handy…
Freelance member Darrell Harvey was glad he had his Canadian Media Guild membership card along when working in Moldova recently. He was detained by police and interrogated about his activities. Not having any idenfitication from a news agency, he pulled out his Guild card. An officer conceded that the card proved Harvey was a journalist and he was released. Don’t leave home without your Guild card!

Editorial employees win 3.5% salary hike at APTN
This fall, an arbitrator granted a 3.5% increase to the salaries of APTN’s editorial staff for this year. When the unit’s collective agreement was reached in 2003, the two sides agreed to wait for the third year to negotiate a new wage increase. They also agreed to send the issue to best-offer arbitration if they couldn’t come to an agreement.

The issue was referred to arbitration in June. APTN’s management proposed simply adding a ninth step on the existing salary scales. That would have meant only one employee would have gotten a salary increase this year. The Guild proposed a 3.5% increase across the board and that was the offer the arbitrator selected.

TVOntario takes aim at permanent workforce
TVOntario has eliminated permanent jobs while using the services of freelancers and interns to perform functions that can– and should– be done by permanent employees. The network eliminated ten Guild positions last spring and the union filed a grievance charging that management did not follow the rules outlined in the collective agreement. The Guild believes some of the layoffs could have been avoided and is concerned that the network has reduced the permanent workforce in favour of freelancers. Last month, members at TVOntario began wearing buttons bearing “7.6”– the number of the article in the collective agreement that prohibits the use of freelancers to displace permanent employees. When some new work became available around that time, Guild reps worked to ensure that two laid-off members on the recall list were brought back to fill the vacancies.

APTN licence renewed with rate hike
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network can count on $10 million more in annual revenue after the CRTC granted a seven-year license renewal in June. The network made history by being the first ever to receive support from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. With support from viewers, the CMG and APTN staff, the license hearing went without a hitch and the network got a 10-cent increase to subscriber fees. Click here to read the submission made by the Canadian Media Guild in support of APTN’s license renewal. APTN has already increased news coverage and is also opening new bureaus in Whitehorse, Iqaluit and Edmonton.

There is a fly in the ointment: APTN has so far refused to fill four vacancies in the editorial department. That means an overburdened workforce is now having to take on even mre work. Workplace stress is near a breaking point.

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