On Tuesday, April 15 a committee comprised of Michel Lamarche (Montreal), Roger Ward (Toronto) and myself, along with CMG staff rep Keith Maskell, met with representatives of The Canadian Press. This was the first meeting of the joint employer/employee committee (EEC) for some time, and took place after much effort on the part of the Guild – and particularly Keith – to make it happen.
There were a number of objectives for the meeting, but the most important was to start re-establishing an atmosphere of transparency and trust between the Guild and the new management team at The Canadian Press – a relationship that has somewhat eroded over the past couple of years. It wasn’t a long meeting, so we were not able to get to every item on what was admittedly a very ambitious agenda. But I am pleased to say that both sides have committed to meet (more) regularly in future.
Among the issues that were discussed:
State of the company: New Chief Financial Officer Marc Beisheim gave a brief presentation on the current financial health of the company. Compared to what we’ve all heard about other Canadian media organizations of late, CP appears to be in a less precarious position. That said, the company’s continued required pension contributions are significant, and diminished revenue in some areas has cancelled out gains made in others. We’re looking forward to a more detailed look at the company’s finances soon, in advance of upcoming contract talks.
The company also outlined how it intends to try and boost revenues in the short and long term.
Outstanding grievances: I am happy to report that our grievance dealing with the use of an intern in Edmonton has been resolved to the satisfaction of both sides. Internship programs will also be one of the items on the table at our next round of bargaining. Our longest-standing open grievance deals with part-time employees who have been or are being used on a full-time basis but don’t receive the benefits and stability that come with full-time employee status. Most of the employees on the original list have been converted, but some names remain on the list. We continue to push the company to find ways to give these workers the stability we believe they deserve. We also discussed a case where a perceived performance issue has been instead treated as a disciplinary matter. Both sides have committed to working toward finding fair solutions.
Training and development: Everyone agrees that it’s essential that all CP employees have what they need to be successful in their jobs and to have satisfying careers. The Guild and CP management have agreed to work together to set up a performance management plan that will inform the company about the current comfort level, and then come up with solutions to ensure that employees – individuals and groups – get the training and development opportunities they need.
We also spent some time talking about broader issues of staffing, overtime, and the future of the organization, including the potential for more future growth at PageMasters North America. The next meeting has been scheduled for the end of June.
I will be discussing the outcomes of this week’s meeting soon with your National Executive.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please let one of us know.
Terry Pedwell, CP Branch president
Keith Maskell, CMG staff representative