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Unions Must step up Anti-Racism Measures

Recent events have brought to the fore the stark reality faced by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the workplace. The stories members are sharing are heartbreaking and revolting, and we have only heard just a small fraction.
These stories make clear that employers and unions have profoundly failed to make many workplaces healthy and welcoming.  Anti-Black racism, and racism against Indigenous and People of Colour are widespread, including at work.

It’s a long overdue reality check to hear in such wrenching detail that despite decades of so many of us preaching equal rights, day-to-day at work and in life, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada continue to experience behaviours and actions that make them feel unwelcome at work, and worse, far too many describe suffering silently through overt and subtle racism and discrimination.
It’s important that we all continue to listen. It’s also urgent that we collectively resolve to do what’s required to stop this. We want all our co-workers to be treated with dignity and respect.
This is why our union is stepping up our search for practical solutions that can help bring about tangible change.

-To promote understanding, we are working with two national journalism advocacy groups, the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) and the Canadian Journalists of Colour  (CJOC) sponsoring their ‘Diversity in the Newsroom’ conference.  We are also supporting the CABJ’s educational program for teens, J-School Noire.

-With a focus on inclusion and on ensuring BIPOC members are given equitable treatment in every aspect of their job, we have tasked a team to look at the challenges these media workers face, especially regarding hiring, retention, career development and promotion, and to develop policies and strategies that we will work to include into the collective agreements of every media organization CMG bargains with. We will also address these challenges with employers at joint meetings, and any other opportunity the union may have.

-We will leverage union education to help raise our understanding, learn from one another, and together develop ways to achieve the equitable improvements we all want.

Many unions including CMG already have progressive policies in place dealing with harassment and respect at work, but what we will work to get at with the new plans is to include pro-active and measurable steps a company can take that will ensure Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the workplace are heard, are included and are able to use their talents and make their contributions as a valued part of the team.

This fight against anti-Black racism and racism against Indigenous and People of Colour in all our workplaces is urgent and a priority. 
We welcome the stories and experiences our fellow union members and co-workers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour are ready to share privately and in confidence via email (carmel@cmg.ca) or publicly via the hashtags #InTheMedia and #CdnMedia.
Thank you to those who are already speaking up – and in case you missed it, please read these stories by CMG members : How newsrooms can support their diverse talent, Telling Black Canadian Stories and It’s Tough Playing Canada’s Game.
Thank you in advance to all fellow union members, friends and colleagues for coming together to ensure our union does a much better job than we have been doing.

Carmel Smyth,
President, Canadian Media Guild


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