We are about to get a big boost in our efforts to build our CMG Freelance Branch.
After a selection process that took place over the summer, we have a new Freelance Organizer – a position funded for the next 6 months (at least) by CWA Canada. She is Datejie Green, who some will remember when she was a CBC member on the NEC from 2004 to about 2007. Since that time, Datejie has completed her Master’s Degree at York. She is very familiar with the issues facing freelancers.
Datejie will work out of the CMG office in Toronto beginning next week.
Over the past decade, many of us at CMG have talked about organizing independent freelancers (as opposed to those at the CBC who are automatically represented by CMG). Our union has developed an incredible amount of expertise in freelance issues through both our work with CBC freelancers and through our alliance with the Canadian Writers Group led by Derek Finkle. We have led efforts to improve conditions for freelancers at the Toronto Star and at Transcontinental Media.
At the same time, we know here is a hunger among freelancers for a voice to push for bargaining leverage and better work conditions and benefits.
Datejie’s main tasks will be identify and coordinate what CMG already does for freelancers (including advocacy through storyboard.ca, general advice, networking, access to a solid benefits plan), develop a strategy to build on what we already do by developing other potential services, consider a workable dues structure and payment system, and actively organize freelance members into CMG’s Freelance Branch. The position is being paid for by CWA Canada’s Strategic Industry Fund, which places a strong emphasis on organizing.
It’s increasingly clear that this type of membership will be a major aspect of the union movement in the future as we seek to also represent workers who do not have permanent ongoing jobs. A growing amount of media work is being done independently by freelancers or in workplaces that are too small for a traditional bargaining unit structure.
This project will give us all a valuable opportunity to understand what it takes to represent freelancers effectively and to examine the viability of this direction going forward. Thanks to CWA Canada Director Martin O’Hanlon for funding it.
Please join us in welcoming Datejie Green (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Carmel Smyth, National President
Lise Lareau, CMG Vice-President
Don Genova, Head of the Freelance Branch