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Undecided about the strike vote? Please read this? An editorial by CMG president Lise Lareau

It all seems so illogical: asking people to endorse job action that could shut down the CBC so we can get talks going – really going — with the Corporation.

But, like it or not, Canadian labour relations are built around the concept of the strike vote. And, as a result, negotiations often don’t get serious ? at the CBC or any other large company ? unless the union gets past this hurdle and demonstrates its muscle.

Without a strong strike mandate, the power between the two sides just isn’t equal. And we, the employees of the CBC, run the real risk of accepting working conditions that are much worse than what we have now. It’s as simple as that.

But the same system gives us unique ability to push back against lousy economic and work conditions. Individual employees could never do that on their own.

For example, CBC’s desire to hire more people in an informal way by putting them on contract rather than permanent staff is part of a global trend. This trend is not good for employees and nor is it particularly cheaper for employers. But it does give employers more control and power over employees by keeping them on a short leash, and employers get away without making any real commitment to their staff.

Hanging tough at this point in negotiations is how we’ve made gains in the past. Here are some things we’ve won after strong strike mandates:

? Permanent staff status for more than 1,000 members who didn’t have it before (CMG)

? Requirement that CBC prove a business case before contracting out Unit 3 members’ work (CUPE, now Unit 3)

? Long-term temporaries and contract employees get compensation equal to full time employees for pension and are included in the CBC benefit plan (CMG)

? A million-dollar special training fund for Unit 2 (CEP, now Unit 2)

So let’s take advantage of this vote to speak up, to push back, and to oppose stuff that’s clearly bad for us: informal hiring arrangements, overtime averaging, short turnaround periods, contracting out bits of Canada’s public broadcaster one piece at a time. The issues on the table are big issues. They are your issues. And you have a say, unlike many employees worldwide.

Don’t forget: the CBC wanted this One Big Union, which used to be represented in three groups by CEP, CUPE and the Guild. It’s never been clear why, other than to make union relations simpler. Did it expect the new, more diverse union to be weaker, less united? It would be a real shame if we proved that to be true and blew the opportunity to speak as one.

Yes, it seems like it shouldn’t be necessary to call a vote at this point. But it’s the only system we have. Please cast your ballot in the strike vote and give your bargaining committee the power it needs to get a fair deal.

Please feel free to contact me at the Guild office any time at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149 or at lise@cmg.ca.

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