Friday, January 17, 2014

Canadian Media Guild seeking liftoff for
freelance branch

The Canadian Media Guild has, at last, created CMG Freelance, a voluntary freelance
(as distinguished from freelancers who work under omnibus contracts such as with the CBC). Accommodating and meeting the priorities of freelancers is something CMG has been pondering for some time. It said in a recent posting on Story Board:
"We’ve concentrated on figuring out how we, as a union, can adapt to the growing self-employed workforce that deals with multiple engagers, and provide practical and effective supports to individuals and groups."
What they've come up with is a voluntary membership of $150 a year, by which all freelance writers, journalists, consultants and self-employed workers in all media, creative, communications, IT and knowledge sectors may be represented and have services provided to them. These services include a dedicated website, educational workshops, a member directory, savings on smart phone plans, credit card and insurance rates and an affordable group health plan. They are working on creating "contracts that mean what they say...and say what they mean". The project has been guided by organizer Datejie Green since last September.

The CMG, which is a local of CWA/SCA Canada, a division of the Communications Workers of America,  represents 6,000 workers in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC/SRC), The Canadian Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP), TVO, TFO, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (aptn), ZoomerMedia, Shaw Media and CKOI Radio Gatineau (Québec). And, now, media freelancers.

"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," says the CMG.  "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.  
There continues to be a Canadian Freelance Union, which is a chapter of the mega-union Unifor (formed last fall by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Unions. Originally under the auspices of the CEP, the CFU has long had many of the same organizing goals as the CMG, including representing new groups of workers -- the growing numbers of individuals in media (and other sectors) who work on contract or freelance.
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