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No shortage of things to tackle for new CMG president

The beginning of 2011 brings new leaders to the Canadian Media Guild. As the new national president, I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues and members from across the country over the coming term. And there is no shortage of things to do.

It’s no secret we are facing critical times at the CMG and, like other unions, we need to redefine ourselves.

Many of our members are struggling with increased workloads and stress and, at the same time, less satisfying work. The media as we know it is in continued crisis and our union needs to find ways to respond without eroding our rights and working conditions.

In this new world shaped in large part by financial and technological changes, the Guild has to provide good service to members, make more efforts to include and engage younger members, and mobilize and organize workers other media workplaces. We need to be more relevant to the increasing numbers of workers in our industry that do not have the benefit of union membership. The more political and economic clout we have together, the better off we are.

The Guild is your union. As busy as you are, please consider what you can contribute and how you can be an active part of this powerful force. It can be as simple as welcoming an unfamiliar face at work and introducing them to the Guild; or recognizing that something isn’t going smoothly in your work area and figuring out with your colleagues ways to fix it together; or noticing that someone is struggling and finding ways to connect them to the help they might need. Of course there are many other union activities that you can get involved in, too: committees (both national and in your own workplace), event organizing, helping to represent the members in your work area and ensure good communication as a steward, and advocacy on union and media issues.

If you want to get more involved, talk to a Guild rep in your workplace (you can find the names of the local Guild representatives by clicking on “who’s who” from any page on the Guild website). You can also write to info@cmg.ca .

I am committed to leading an open and transparent union, where you can easily find out what we’re doing, and how and why we’re doing it. If you ever have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or ideas, I would love to hear from you.

In addition to building on our own strength, we need the active support of a society that values a free press and celebrates the many different viewpoints and sources. This is not just a union issue: millions of Canadians share our concerns about the shrinking and conglomerated media companies and the negative ramifications on public debate, information and analysis.

We can be leaders on this front. Let’s continue to fight to preserve a fair and functioning media, where brave and controversial journalism and programming can still exist, and not be crippled by monopolies, mergers and cutbacks to the point where our members are afraid to take chances.

I am attending a six-week trade union program at Harvard University until mid-February. I am available by email throughout at carmel@cmg.ca .

Here’s to a happy and successful 2011 for all!

Carmel Smyth is the national president of the Canadian Media Guild. She took office on January 1, 2011.

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