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CMG convention stokes union involvement and solidarity

Solidarity and new beginnings formed the thread that wove the CMG’s 2008 convention together. The nearly 200 delegates discussed and learned more about how to come together to face the challenges of the media industry; they also heard from other unions about their struggles with their media employers.

And they were challenged to concentrate on ways to regenerate their own union, in an opening speech from CMG president Lise Lareau. “I say to you that a network of people meeting in this room must start planning a takeover of this union. My term and those of us on the NEC ends at the end of 2010; everyone here should start to think about taking over their location or running for national office. Find like minds, start to develop new ideas and prepare yourselves. We need new thinking, new approaches, new people.”

CMG urged to reach out to younger workers of colour and Aboriginal workers
The challenges of going forward in solidarity were made explicit in a presentation by Karl Flecker, the national director of anti-racism and human rights at the Canadian Labour Congress. The Canadian labour movement in general, and the CMG is no exception, is largely led by aging white people; meanwhile, the people increasingly filling the jobs in this country are younger racialized and Aboriginal people.

“Eight million people are leaving the workforce in the next eight to ten years,” Flecker pointed out. Immigrants, 80% of whom are people of colour, will represent more than three-quarters of our “workforce regeneration,” together with Aboriginal people, who are the youngest population group in the country. And, for the first time, women outnumber men in the union movement. People who are identified in these groups are more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty. Click here to view Flecker’s presentation.

Flecker challenged the CMG to look at our relationship, as a union, with people of colour, recent immigrants and Aboriginal people. He urged us to ask ourselves who they are, where they are coming from, what they look like and what issues are important to them. In looking at how we’re building the relationships, he said we need to examine what is working well and what is not. In other words, we need a strategy that is informed by knowledge and that is applied across the union, from top to bottom.

Following a resolution at the 2006 convention, Lareau said that the CMG is working to find the money needed to hire a new staff representative from an equity-seeking group who would be “primarily dedicated to addressing the systemic barriers facing equity-seeking groups and the human rights of our members.”

Delegates also spent a full day during the convention at one of five training workshops, learning more about how to confront workload issues, to interpret their collective agreement, to be an effective union executive member, to mobilize members and to deal with bullies at work. The aim of the workshops is to make the union more effective on the ground in our workplaces.

Sharing stories from the frontlines of other media struggles
A number of special guests represented firsts for the CMG: CBC delegates heard directly from the public broadcaster’s new president during their special meeting. He spoke about the need to turn a new page in the relationship between the union and management at CBC. As well, all delegates were treated to stories from the frontlines of two media struggles, with Denis Bolduc representing locked-out workers at Quebec City daily Le Journal de Qu

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