Unifor welcomes CRTC ruling on national multi-lingual TV service
TORONTO – The union representing 100 journalists and media workers at Rogers OMNI television welcomes today’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling that renews its licence for a national third language TV service.
“This is the CRTC’s vote of confidence in the quality of TV programming that our Unifor members deliver every day,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The focus on local news in the licence conditions is appropriate and what our ethnically diverse communities deserve.”
Unifor is disappointed, however, by the failure of the CRTC to adopt many of its recommendations. The union had recommended licence conditions that would require proper staffing of news operations and a ban on contracting out of broadcasts to low-wage media companies.
“The CRTC raised both the news programming obligations and the subscriber fees required to pay for it,” said Howard Law, Unifor Media Director. “But capping it at 19 cents for three years without regard to rising costs and falling advertising revenues is troubling. We don’t want to see quality undercut by more contracting out or layoffs.”
“We are looking forward to putting out great programming every day and to continue earning the public’s trust in our newscasts,” said OMNI reporter Prabhjot Kahlon.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Christina Mitonidis at Christina.Mitonidis@Unifor.org or at 647-327-9371 (cell).
Stephen Hawkins has been acclaimed as President & Vivian Yu has been acclaimed as Chief Steward for another two-year term
Treasurer position is still open
Health & Safety
We would like volunteers from City News & the OMNI Group to sit on the Joint Health & Safety Committee. The Committee meets 9 times a year and all work is done on paid time
CRTC Supportive Intervention
Our Local appeared in support of Rogers recent CRTC OMNI application. We believe the Company has the best plan to build on, however, we want to see an end to contracting out the national Chinese news to a competitor, Fairchild, and improve transparency on the use of 9-1-H funding, especially as it is used to support local programming.
Vacation carry-over can be requested for up to 5 days but must be taken by March 31.
Get those 2019 vacation requests in before the end of the year, they are assigned by seniority. The Company must inform you within 13 days if your request is denied and will not be unreasonably turned down.
Unifor Local 830M’s Position on Multi-Ethnic News:
There are 8 applications to the CRTC for a national, multilingual, multi-ethnic television service offering news and information. The licensed broadcaster will receive mandatory distribution on basic service and 9-1-H fees.
The Executive Board of Unifor Local 830M, and the National union will be making a submission on behalf of members, asking the CRTC to consider:
Local News Matters
The successful applicant should agree to specific conditions of license that will require them to produce at least 30 minutes of original, local, daily, news, in-house in each of the six languages identified in their proposals.
No Contracting Out
Many of the proposals submitted would allow the licensee to contract out the production of News to a third party, like what Rogers is currently doing with Fairchild Broadcasting producing Chinese news for OMNI Regional. Unifor strongly opposes this policy because it reduces the diversity of voices and creates an editorial monopoly for Fairchild, weakening journalistic integrity and independence.
Unifor believes the successful applicant must commit to a fair employment policy as a condition of license that commits them to using sufficient in-house TV Journalists (reporters, anchors, camera ops, videographers, editors, writers, associate producers) to produce high quality daily local news.
This policy should contain the approximate size of the editorial and production staff, including structure of permanent, temporary, freelance or contractors, with a compensation package equivalent to the current collective agreements in place for OMNI staff in Vancouver and Toronto.
Transparency & Accountability a Must
With so much public funding for a successful applicant, there must be transparent use of 9-1- H funds and editorial independence from whichever media enterprise is part of the applicants’ ownership group. This editorial oversight must be separate from existing “advisory councils” and should include a majority of members who are not employees of the licensee or any related company.
Specific Conditions of License Needed
We know from experience with Rogers broadcasting and the CRTC application of policies, only strict and enforceable conditions of license can achieve the goals of the Broadcasting Act and the Commission’s Ethnic Broadcasting Policy to the benefit of Canada’s multi-cultural communities.
Promises, policies, expectations and aspirations are not enforceable once a license has been granted. Only specific conditions of license can ensure the public interest, as required by the broadcasting act, is upheld. Canadians deserve certainty, and enforceable conditions ensuring that large vertically integrated Companies will live up to their commitments in exchange for use of public airwaves.
We have discussed the import role of civic function journalism to our democracy and the specific importance of local news.
As you know, Rogers is applying to the CRTC for a 9-1-H licence for a national multi-ethnic TV news service. Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2018-127.
Unifor Local 830M cannot unconditionally support Roger’s 9-1-H OMNI Licence application because of the possibility that some Punjabi news production could be contracted out, like what was done with OMNI’s national Chinese news (with Fairchild).
Our local and the national union are hoping the CRTC will put more conditions into the granting of this licence to prioritize local news production.
The CRTC deadline for public interventions has been extended to June 7th and members of the public are encouraged to submit their views through the CRTC website.
Unifor Local 830M’s Position on Multi-Ethnic News:
There are 8 applications to the CRTC for a national, multilingual, multi-ethnic television service offering news and information. The licensed broadcaster will receive mandatory distribution on basic service and 9-1-H fees. The Executive Board of Unifor Local 830M, and the National union will be making a submission on behalf of members, asking the CRTC to consider:
Executive, Local 830M
TORONTO– The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s rejection of Unifor’s complaint against Roger’s contracting out its Chinese language newscasts is a huge loss to local news says Unifor, Canada’s largest media union.
“Local news is essential and licensed news broadcasts are not playing cards to be swapped with the only competing TV station in the community,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “Rogers promised not to do this. They did it anyway.”
Unifor Locals 723M and 830M, which represent employees at OMNI in Vancouver and Toronto, along with The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations argued contracting out Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts to Fairchild TV violated Rogers condition of license.
In May 2017 Rogers obtained a rare “section 9(1)h” license to re-start OMNI newscasts in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi, which comes with a 12 cents monthly fee from all cable subscribers.
Rogers promised in writing “to re-establish in-house production in all markets served by OMNI’s television stations” but then only re-hired half of the 60 people that had been laid off in 2015 when those same newscasts were cancelled. Instead of re-hiring the highly skilled Chinese speaking news team, funded by the monthly CRTC fee, Rogers contracted with Fairchild TV to broadcast OMNI News, while it continued to air its own rival Fairchild newscast.
Today the CRTC ruled Rogers’s condition of license to “produce the news” does not prevent it from subcontracting to a rival licensee and even called it “reasonable in the regulatory context.”
“The Commission’s tolerance of what is now Fairchild’s editorial monopoly is based on a confidential ‘editorial control’ agreement. Taking the word of a company that has broken a written promise to Canadians to produce these newscasts in house is disrespectful to the community,” said Howard Law, Media Director.
For more information, please contact Unifor Atlantic Communications representative Natalie Clancy: Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or (902) 478-9283 (cell)
If you’re not able to use all of your 2017 Vacation entitlement this year you can request to carry it over until the end of March 2018
Article 22.1 …..Employees may be allowed to carry over up to five (5) vacation days to March 31st of the following year. Such requests shall not be unreasonably denied.
Book next years important Vacation request in before December 31st
Article 22.7 …..Provided that an Employee’s application for vacation is submitted in writing by the last working day in December, they shall receive preference in scheduling their vacation on the basis of their Company seniority within the Job function to which they are assigned in accordance with Article 42 of this Agreement
Dates to be aware of:
Union Seniority Date (usually the same as your hire date unless you worked part-time prior to being hired full-time; your part-time hours are converted into full-time equivalency which then represents your Union Seniority Date)
Step Up Date (usually the same as your hire date) this is when your pay scale goes up at 6 months; one year and annually til top of scale at six years for most job categories
Probation Date (3 months or 6 months in the case of an on-air reporter/videographer) this represents the date you are eligible to apply for Rogers Benefits, Wealth Accumulation, Pension and Full-Time Employee Discounts
Other dates to be aware of is that Sept to Aug is our “contract year”. Sept 1st is when any negotiated increases come into effect.
Members who have been employed for over 4 months are entitled to one “floating” holiday to be taken at a mutually agreeable time. Many people will opt to take February 12th (BC’s Family Day) as their floater, but you can choose to work this day and take your floater whenever it works best for you.
August 2016: Unifor decided to support Rogers application for a new regional multi cultural channel based on assurances by Rogers they would reinstate 3rd language news programming using our members.
Their application was far from ideal, but better than the community affairs programming they were producing for their OMNI channels.
May 2017: The CRTC awarded Rogers a rare mandatory carriage licence (similar to APTN’s licence) with Broadcast Decision 2017-152. With this decision Rogers is set to receive up to 14 million dollars in cable fees over the next three years to produce multicultural programming; including four daily regional news programs in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and Italian.
July 2017: Rogers informed Unifor of their plan to contract out the production of Cantonese and Mandarin daily news programs to a competitor, Fairchild New Media. Unifor expressed our dissatisfaction with Rogers decision and secured a letter of understanding guaranteeing the production of Italian, Portuguese and Punjabi news will remain in-house, with our members.
September 2017: Unifor has filed a complaint with the CRTC using a Part 1 Application: 2017-975-0. Unifor Local 723M has also filed a grievance through their Collective Agreement.
Unifor’s Part 1 Application describes how Rogers is breaching their Conditions of Licence and failing to do what they promised when they applied for a mandatory carriage licence.
Unifor responded to Rogers position by pointing out Rogers continues to be in violation of their Conditions of Licence and the CRTC should hold an expedited hearing and order Rogers to produce Cantonese and Mandarin news programs in-house as they are required to.
September 6, 2017
TORONTO The union representing Chinese speaking journalists and media workers at Rogers’ OMNI TV is taking legal action in response to the broadcaster’s unprecedented subcontracting of its daily news coverage to its only competitor, Fairchild TV.
“This $20-billion broadcaster is in violation of its CRTC licence to produce its own news coverage,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “Rogers promised the CRTC it would cover the news with its in-house staff. It is not supposed to get millions in customer fees, and then reneged on that promise as soon as it gets the CRTC licence.”
Rogers was granted a special licence by the CRTC on May 15 to bring back daily news coverage in the Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, and Punjabi languages. The licence comes with a “must-carry” obligation on all cable TV distributors and a mandatory 12 cent monthly customer fee. The news shows, which went off the air in 2015, began broadcasting again across Canada on September 1.
Dias was also critical of Rogers’ failure to reveal its hand off of news gathering to Fairchild TV only after the CRTC licensing hearing, without the Chinese Canadian community having the chance to debate a monopoly on Chinese language local and national TV news.
“The news director of Fairchild TV is anti-Trudeau, pro-Conservative, and pro-Trump,” said Dias. “OMNI’s decision to contract out the work to its only major competitor denies its viewers a different perspective and a fresh voice. We believe the public had a right to know about this.”
Unifor is filing a complaint to the CRTC on the licensing issue as well as a labour grievance against the contracting out.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
Welcome new members working on OMNI’s Punjabi National News and CITY News Programs
These jobs are, in part, a result of Unifor’s advocacy for improved local programming at the CRTC and with Members of Parliament.
Check out the web site for more info on our continuing efforts:
Contracting Out National Chinese National News
We are disappointed in Rogers decision to contract out Chinese language national news to a competitor, Fairchild Television. We feel Rogers has betrayed Unifor’s support during their 9-1-H license application.
OMNI’s Cantonese and Mandarin national news programming should be produced in-house by our members.
We are coordinating efforts to oppose Rogers short sighted decision in the strongest possible way with our brothers & sisters in Toronto as well as with multi cultural community groups.
Left unchallenged, “contracting out to the cheapest provider” will negatively impact local television news production across Canada.
Stephen Hawkins, Local President, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-317-2312
Tanya Luciani, Vice President, email@example.com
Gerald Christenson, Treasurer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Leong, Secretary, email@example.com
Tasneem Razvi, Women’s Advocate, firstname.lastname@example.org