Local 723M & Local 79M Children's Holiday Party

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Local 723M's CRTC Intervention on Rogers Renewal of television licensess


CRTC says ethnic communities can do without local ethnic television news for another year and a half

The CRTC’s decision to sit on its hands until sometime in 2017 instead of ordering Rogers to resume the local news it promised to broadcast on its five ethnic television stations ignores the importance of local news to those communities, said Kelly Dobbs, the president of Unifor 723M, the union local representing OMNI workers in Toronto. The CRTC said today that it will only deal with Rogers’ May 2015 cancellation of all local news on its OMNI stations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto during the CRTC’s routine renewal of the stations, expected to begin later this year and to end in mid-2017 – because it had no other way to hold Rogers to account for its broken promises over local news.

“In January 2015 the CRTC recognized that 8 in 10 Canadians consider local news important,” Dobbs pointed out. “We agree – and that’s why we asked the CRTC to at least call Rogers to a public hearing to review its promises to provide local news on the OMNI stations.” Almost two thousand people supported Unifor 723M’s request that the CRTC call Rogers to an immediate public hearing and hold it to account.

“Rogers cancelled the OMNI news last May and Unifor 723M asked the CRTC to investigate on June 5th” added Angelo Contarin, Unifor 723M’s Vice-President. He also said that the CRTC’s decision did not explain why it took seven months to decide to ignore Rogers’ cancellation of local ethnic news until 2017, why the CRTC did not announce an immediate review of its ethnic broadcasting policy when the cuts were made, or how the loss of local ethnic television news serves the public interest in general and the interests of ethnic communities in particular. Contarin also asked why the CRTC transferred funding for a scheduled ethnic broadcasting review, to its current community-local TV review, as noted by Commissioner Raj Shoan in his minority opinion.

“It’s clear to the members of our local that the CRTC has little, if any, interest in strengthening employment opportunities in Canadian broadcasting in general, or in ethnic television in particular,” said Rinaldo Boni, 723M’s Vice-President of OMNI’s production unit. Canada’s Broadcasting Act lists employment opportunities as one of Parliament’s goals for Canadian broadcasters. Boni noted that the CRTC’s January 2015 policy on local television recognized that local programming supports job creation2 - but ignored its own data showing that private television stations have shed more than 2,200 jobs since 2006. Rogers’ May 2015 cancellations resulted in 110 layoffs at its OMNI stations, on top of several hundred other layoffs at the stations from 2012 to 2014.

Dobbs is asking the Honourable Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to consider how today’s decision by the CRTC meets the new federal government’s commitment to “economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity”.


Yesterday we released a major study by leading experts in the broadcasting industry, identifying massive job losses and revenue-hit likely to result from the Harper-CRTC’s ill considered regulatory changes in 2015.

The study was authored by well known consultants Nordicity and Peter Miller. It is the only impact analysis of the regulatory changes, as the CRTC made a number of dramatic regulatory changes ---pick and pay, the elimination of simultaneous substitution, and the evisceration of Canadian content rules--- without any impact analysis of its own.

The release of the study earned widespread media coverage which Howard has been tweeting at @howardalaw.

The study was funded by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Unifor, ACTRA, the Director’s Guild of Canada, and the Canadian Media Guild. The Unifor contribution came from both the National union and a number of media locals.

We also submitted the study to the CRTC in time for the “new evidence” deadline, along with submissions highlighting the layoffs at CTV stations across Canada and CHCH-TV in Hamilton, events which certainly underline the fact that the dire warnings we have been giving the CRTC about local TV news being in grave jeopardy were no exaggeration.

We have attached the study, our press release, and our new filing to the CRTC.

The CRTC hearing on local programming begins on January 25th, and we present Unifor’s case on January 28th.

In solidarity,

Howard Law, Media Director
Randy Kitt, Media Industry Chair

Local 723M urges CRTC to expedite public inquiry into news cuts at Rogers’ OMNI Television

Unifor and Local 723M request to CRTC

CRTC response to Local 723M

The story has also been picked up by cartt.ca(article)

Let the CRTC know how you feel about Rogers cuts to OMNI news and local programming

If you are as concerned as we are about Rogers’ cancellation of all multilingual daily newscasts at its five OMNI TV stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, then we invite you to make a difference!

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Unifor are asking the federal regulator responsible for licensing all television stations in Canada, the CRTC, to investigate these program cancellations and to order Rogers to reinstate original local news programs.

We think that taking daily news way from the 1.8 million Canadians whose mother tongue is Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese or Punjabi is wrong. Cancelling news would be a disaster at any time, but we are also headed into a federal election campaign this summer and fall. How do OMNI's viewers benefit by the loss of newscasts at this time?

Lsat year Rogers made $1.3 billion in net profits from its cable, cell phone, television and radio holdings - but it says that it should be allowed to cancel the news on OMNI because these programs cost it $3 million more to run, than the programs make from advertising. Rogers' executives compared OMNI to Walmart, and said that every program on OMNI must pay its own way.

The CRTC renewed Rogers' licences for the OMNI stations just last year. Would the licences have been renewed if Rogers had said they were going to cancel their newscasts less than a year later? We don't think so.

The CRTC is supposed to serve the public interest. It listens to people like you.

Have your say: bring back the newscasts by telling the CRTC how what you think. Here’s how:

Method 1

Go to the CRTC website

Search for the "Urban Alliance on Race Relations", or "Unifor 723M".

Click the "Submit" button.

Fill in the information required by the CRTC.

After that, tell the CRTC what you think.

Method 2

Click on this link and answer the questions.

We will send the information you provide to the CRTC for you.

CRTC must inquire into the cancellation of all news on the OMNI TV stations

The union representing employees at TV stations operated by Rogers Media Inc. is joining other national organizations to ask the CRTC to hold the company to account over its decision last month to cancel all news programs on the five ethnic TV stations licensed to serve Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. Unifor Local 723M submitted a Part 1 application to the CRTC today in response to Rogers’ decision to cancel all local news on its OMNI TV stations on May 7, 2015.

“We are asking the CRTC to expedite a public inquiry into the cancellation of news on five of Canada’s six ethnic TV stations because Canadians are going to the polls in a national election this year,” said Angelo Contarin, Vice-President of Unifor Local 723M. Federal law requires a federal general election to be held on or before October 19, 2015.

“News is a fundamental duty for over-the-air TV stations like OMNI – especially during election years. If Rogers cannot afford to operate its stations, or chooses not to run them in the public interest, the CRTC has a duty to investigate, and if necessary, order Rogers to reinstate cancelled programs.” The union’s application asks the CRTC to hold an expedited hearing into Rogers’ actions. “The CRTC holds special hearings on a timely basis to hear commercial disputes between broadcasters,” added Contarin. “Doesn’t democracy in Canada deserve even more concern?”

Application by Unifor 723M for an expedited public hearing into the cancellation of original local ethnic television newscasts cancelled by Rogers Broadcasting Limited, and a mandatory order requiring their reinstatement

A Statement by Minister Hon. Julian Fantino, Member of Parliament for Vaughan and Associate Minister of National Defence

Recently, Rogers Communications announced that they were ending all ethnic news programming on the OMNI stations. For the Italian-Canadian community and other ethnic communities, this was devastating, as it means the end of all local Italian-language and other language news and current affairs television programming on OMNI. Throughout the years, this programming on OMNI has been a vital link to local community television news for the Italian-Canadian population of the Great Toronto Area and throughout Ontario.

I recently wrote to the President and Chief Executive Officer of Rogers Communications, Guy Laurence, pleading with him to reconsider this decision and reinstate such news and current affairs television programming – especially Italian – on the multicultural OMNI station. The response by Rogers Communications did not substantively address any of the concerns that I raised in regards to this matter. This response was not good enough.

As a result, after discussions with my colleagues in the Harper government, our Conservative Members of Parliament will call a special parliamentary committee meeting in in the days ahead on this very issue – where we will force Rogers to explain themselves to Members of Parliament and the Canadian public.

Please see below for the motion submitted to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage by Member of Parliament Rick Dykstra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, earlier today (the exact date and time of the meeting will be confirmed shortly, following the formal adoption of the motion):
That the Standing Committee of Canadian Heritage invite representatives from OMNI to discuss their recent programming changes, specifically as they relate to local news coverage in Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Italian; and that the meeting take place prior to June 18th and that the meeting be scheduled for two hours.

Submissions to the CRTC regarding Rogers and OMNI

Mike Sullivan - MP, York South - Weston
Howard Law - Unifor (Director, Media Sector)


Unifor Local 723M is condemning the cuts to local OMNI TV programming announced today by Rogers Media. Eliminating local news from the five ethnic television stations that Rogers is licensed to operate is an utter betrayal of these communities. The CRTC must immediately call Rogers to account for this terrible decision, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people. These cuts come on the heels of Rogers’ decision in 2013 to cancel 21 programs in 13 languages and to end local ethnic TV production in Calgary in 2013, and to close the studio of its Edmonton TV station in 2011.

The CRTC dismissed a complaint by Unifor in 2013 when it ask the CRTC to investigate Rogers’ previous decisions to cut service to ethnic communities. Then in 2014, when the CRTC heard Rogers’ applications for more flexibility to run the OMNI station, the CRTC agreed. The CRTC’s 2014 decision said that asking Rogers to spend $2 million a year on local programming at five stations would be excessive; in 2014 Rogers Communications reported $12.9 billion in revenues, $5 billion in profits, and an adjusted operating profit margin of 39%.

Enough is enough: the CRTC must act to protect the public interest and the interests of Canada’s ethnic communities – letting Rogers eliminate local news and information in the few months before a federal election is called makes a mockery of the CRTC and the integrity of its licensing process.

Broadcasting is a privilege in Canada. It’s not some kind of property for the wealthiest to buy, sell and manipulate. The right to run a TV service hinges on a broadcaster’s commitment to serve the public. If Rogers can’t afford, or doesn’t want, to serve Canada’s ethnic communities, isn’t it time to find someone who does?

Hasty pick and pay a threat to homegrown content

Today's approach to pick and pay cable by the CRTC will be needlessly disruptive to Canada's broadcast and entertainment industries, putting at risk this country's ability to tell its own stories, Canada's largest media union says.

"If the CRTC is determined to go down this road, it should do so only on a gradual, experimental and trial basis," Unifor Media Director Howard Law said.

"Too many jobs are at stake – the jobs of people who make their livings telling Canadian stories to Canadians. Our talented actors and content creators will be forced to move to the U.S. to find work."

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced this afternoon that consumers will soon be able to pick which cable TV channels they want, rather than the current bundling system, along with skinny basic cable packages of local stations and provincial education channels.

The announcement follows a pledge by the Harper government in the Prime Minister's 2013 Speech from the Throne that no jobs would be lost from any such move. Despite the fact that the Commission, itself, is on record stating there is a strong likelihood some channels will not survive under pick and pay.

It is particularly disappointing that U.S. channels will be given privileged access to skinny cable, while Canadian channels will be forced to fight over pick and pay scraps. The CRTC specifically rejected any requirement that Canadians select a proportion of their cable channels from a list of Canadian options.

"If anyone should be left fully exposed to pick and pay, it should be the U.S. stations," Law said.

In its submissions to the CRTC, Unifor made it clear that a hasty approach to pick and pay and skinny basic would inevitably cost jobs (more than 16,000 by 2020), and that some channels and content providers would not survive the change. This would not only mean fewer Canadians telling our stories, but also less choice and diversity of television offerings for consumers.

Bringing in new rules on an experimental and trial basis, however, would allow time to determine exactly what the impact will be on cable subscriber retention and revenue loss, allowing for a smoother transition for this vital industry.

"This is a disappointing decision and it is now up to the Harper government to say how it will live up to the promises in its Throne Speech," Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt said.

"The broadcast industry is no doubt in a period of transition, but we risk too much by gambling on going too far, too fast."

It is much better, he said, to mitigate the disruption with appropriately designed and paced regulatory measures.

To see Unifor's submission to the CRTC, go to unifor.org.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 13,000 in the media sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


Information From Unifor on Recent CRTC Decisions

Below, you will find two documents released from the Unifor National office in regards to two recent decisions by the CRTC. The first document is a letter from National President, Jerry Dias to Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The letter on behalf of 5,000 Unifor members working in Canada’s broadcast and film industries is requesting that she consider reversing the CRTC’s January 29 decision that disallows distributors to perform simultaneous substitution on speciality television services and during the Super Bowl. (attachment: Letter from Jerry Dias to Minister Glover.pdf)

The second document is a letter stating the position of Unifor Media Director Howard Law and Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt on the CRTC decision to ease Canadian Content quotas for TV, that came out today. (attachment: CRTC Canadian Content March 2015.pdf) Highlights of this decision is that the CRTC will cut local daytime Cancon requirement from 55% to zero, but keep prime-time rule at 50%. Specialty TV channels, will see their Cancon requirements drop to 35 per cent overall and there will no longer be a specific Cancon requirement for the evening hours for specialty channels.

You can see more information on the decision from this link, www.cbc.ca/news/business/crtc-eases-canadian-content-quotas-for-tv-1.2992132

This is not good news for our members or our industry. Unifor has been trying to speak out on your behalf but it appears the CRTC is not listening to the workers in this industry.

Unifor Scholarship

Unifor is committed to building the strongest and most effective union to bargain on behalf of our members, work with our members to improve their rights, and extend the benefits of unionization to non-unionized workers in Canada. We are also concerned about the lives of our members' families. We recognize that post-secondary education is out of reach for many working-class children due to skyrocketing tuition fees. To assist in making education more accessible, we've established 28 scholarships worth $2000.00 each.

The scholarships are awarded to sons/daughters of Unifor members in good standing. Students must be entering their first year of full-time post-secondary education in a public Canadian institution.

Download the Scholarship Application form for additional details.

Can Work Be Safe When Home Isn't?

Initial Findings of a Pan-Canadian Survey on Domestic Violence and the Workplace

On December 6, 2013, the Canadian Labour Congress with Western University launched a groundbreaking national survey on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. The response was overwhelming – 8429 workers participated, from all regions of the country.

We asked them who had experienced domestic violence, how it impacted their work and their co-workers, whether they had discussed it with anyone at work and what types of support they may have received.

The survey results are a wake-up call and we can’t wait to share what we have learned.

It’s time to talk. This survey is the start of a conversation, one that needs to involve youtubeunions, employers and governments, about how we can make sure that people who experience domestic violence can feel safe on the job, and feel supported by their union and employer.

Watch our video and learn more about the powerful results of this important study.

Courtesy Canadian Labour Congress

Local 723M Bargaining Update

The Company’s letter advising cancellation of next weeks’ negotiations is somewhat surprising. (See Below) Yes, we disagree on the need for the Company to separate 271 employees from their Defined Benefit Pension Plan, and yes, we disagree on the Company’s need to impose “Omniflex” benefits on everyone. However there were other important issues in discussion. By filing a “Notice of Dispute” Bell is simply pushing ahead with its concession agenda without resolving important issues like status and staffing, classification and wages. Bell Media has not yet responded to a dozen bargaining proposals.

This is not a Company in financial need. Second Quarter results (Aug 2014) showed Bell Media operating revenues growing by over 36% to $761-million dollars up $210-million from Q2 2013.

If the Company truly wanted to get an agreement it would honour the promise made to workers in 2010 and allow them to keep their DB pension and it would offer something better than less extended health care, less dental, the loss of family day, and a free for all for part-time, temporary and casual workers.

The Company’s strategy is to divide the membership over pension, benefits and the security of work.

What does Conciliation mean?

  • Step 1 An application is made to the Federal Labour Minister to appoint a Conciliator within 15 days of the application.

  • Step 2 We continue to negotiate with the Company using the conciliator as a facilitator to see if a deal can be reached within 60 days from the date of the appointment.

  • Step 3 60 days are up and no deal is reached and the conciliation process ends unless both parties agree to extend it.
  • Step 4 21 day cooling off period begins. During this time negotiations are still possible.

  • Step 5 At the end of the 21 day cooling off period either party may exercise the right to lockout or strike. Negotiations may continue beyond the cooling off period. There is no time limit on this process and strike or lockout can only occur after a strike vote has been taken by the Union. Either party can give 72 hours’ notice of intent to strike or lockout.

  • Step 6 If at any time after the 21 day period the Union strikes or the Company locks out, a work stoppage begins.

Stay tuned for further negotiation bulletins in the weeks to come. Member comments and questions are encouraged and appreciated. Feel free to contact any member of Bargaining Committee or the Local Executive by email, phone, or in person.

In solidarity,
Local 723M Bargaining Committee:

Kelly Dobbs, President (kellyd@unifor723m.org)
Paul Boynett, Vice-President (paulb@unifor723m.org)
John Sewell, Treasurer (johns@unifor723m.org)
Michael Silva, Steward (michaels@unifor723m.org)
Ray Orsava, Committee Member (mail@unifor723m.org)
David Lewington, National Representative (David.Lewington@unifor.org)

Bell Media Cancels Bargaining Sessions with Union

Since the acquisition of CTVglobemedia and other media companies by Bell, more than 6,000 employees have switched to the Bell harmonization package. From the beginning of the negotiations, it has been made clear that Bell Media had the same mandate for Queens Street’s bargaining unit. During our sessions, we’ve demonstrated to the Union’s bargaining committee that harmonization will bring significant advantages for the vast majority of the employees involved.

However, the company representatives were informed by the bargaining committee on September 29 that three meetings were held and that a survey with all members was conducted to gauge the membership’s opinion on a number of elements being discussed at the table. According to the information that was shared, those consultations showed that the majority of employees in the union were not interested in Bell’s harmonization package.

The Bell harmonization package includes the replacement of the Defined Benefit pension plan (covering 271 out of 734 employees) by the Defined Contribution plan and the Omniflex health benefits plan, which represent substantial premium savings to all employees compared to the current CTV plan. Also, for all employees now participating to the “CTV Defined Contribution plan,” the switch to the Bell DC plan would also represent substantial improvements.

Due to the position taken by the Union’s bargaining committee, nothing indicates that we can reach an agreement at the bargaining table. For this reason, we are cancelling our upcoming bargaining sessions and Bell Media will file a Notice to Dispute to the Federal Minister of Labour requesting the appointment of a conciliator to facilitate the resolution of this negotiation. The conciliator will have up to 60 days to assist both parties in reaching an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the end of the conciliation process will allow the Union and Bell Media to acquire their legal right to strike or lock-out.

We want to reassure you that we will do everything we can to reach an agreement. That being said, we also have to respect and be fair to all the other Bell Media employees who went through similar changes.

Further updates will be provided to keep you informed.

Please do not hesitate to contact your manager should you have any questions related to the above.

Vice-President, Labour Relations and Human Resources (Bell Media)

Check out the videos from Unifor’s first Canadian Council!

A huge thank you to the roughly 1,500 delegates who participated in our first ever Canadian Council, and to the hundreds of others who joined the conversation on social media.

And thank you to all of the members that built Unifor and made our first year such a successful one.

This Council was for all of us - and so we want to share some of the highlights.

To kick things off, we watched a video that highlighted some of our key victories in this past year:

The First Year – Success stories from Unifor members

On Saturday, delegates engaged in discussion about the values that drive us and some of the key issues demanding our attention. Speakers included National President Jerry Dias, Michčle Audette, Stephen Lewis, Thomas Mulcair and others.

Click to watch the wrap-up video from Saturday.

On Sunday, delegates focussed on the priorities for Unifor in our second year. Speakers included Quebec director Michel Ouimet, CLC president Hassan Yussuff, actor and activist Danny Glover, and author and activist Linda McQuaig.

Click to watch the wrap-up video from Sunday.

Delegates were also the first to see our brand new pride and women’s videos.

Like what you see? Be sure to spread the word about our great union by sharing through your networks!

What a great first year. On to the next!

In solidarity,
Unifor Communications

CRTC ruling upholds Rogers' responsibilities to multilingual programming

TORONTO, July 31, 2014 /CNW/ - A Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling today rebuffed Rogers Broadcasting Limited's request for sweeping regulatory relief for its OMNI ethnic television chain in spite of recent financial losses at those five stations.

In the same decision, the CRTC will require Rogers to enhance its commitments to original local programming broadcast from its national chain of City stations.

"Multiculturalism is part of what makes Canada great, and we fought to keep ethnic and third language services alive in Rogers' licence," said Unifor Media Sector Director Howard Law. "Rogers Communications is a very profitable corporation and can easily afford to maintain the current level of programming at OMNI, diminished as it is."

Rogers applied for a renewal of their City and OMNI licences in the fall of 2013 with a proposal to reduce commitments to ethnic and Canadian programming, particularly during the prime time evening period. Unifor testified before the Commission in April 2014, arguing that Rogers' claims about revenue problems at the OMNI stations were over-reaching and under-documented.

"This ruling is a victory for growing newcomer communities who rely on this programming," said Law. "We are very pleased the Commission stood firm. But we feel strongly that Rogers can do even better for ethnic and local programming in the future."

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.


Over 70 Bargaining Unit Positions Declared Surplus

Bell Media has posted noticed and informed members that 72 bargaining unit positions are being "declared surplus effective October 13th, 2014." The company has started meeting with affected members and informing them of their options.

Local 723M executive would like to remind all members, that you may have bumping rights even if the company does not outline them for you. Please consult Article 9 of the collective agreement or any union representative to review all of your options.

Bumping will start to occur and even if you were not initially told of a layoff, you may be affected. It is imperative that everyone review the seniority list to see where you stand. If you have any issues with the list, please notify the local immediately.

BellMedia Notice of Layoff

Members that require a seniority list to exercise bumping rights need to contact the local office or email mail@unifor723m.org

This is one of the more significant and impactful layoffs for our local. The iconic MUCH station has dropped almost all of their original programming. Stations M3 and MTV have also taken significant reductions to their staff and in-house production.

Vacations and Layoffs halt negotiations until mid-August

Negotiations between Local 723M and Bell Media Inc. have been adjourned until August 17-18 to accommodate vacation schedules of the six union and five management participants. In addition the Company has dropped the spectre of layoffs occurring within the next two months if “National Advertising revenues do not improve”. The Company gave no specifics except to say that Toronto would be affected in any restructuring. The Company’s spokesperson also said its intentions would be made clear in future announcements.

Your Collective Agreement remains in full force and effect until a new agreement is negotiated and ratified, or until a strike or lockout occurs.

While we are waiting for negotiations to resume and layoffs, if any, to take place your bargaining committee will be providing members with analysis of the Company’s proposals from Unifor’s research department.

Please follow us on Twitter @uniforlocal723m for information and updates from your bargaining committee.

In solidarity,

Local 723M Bargaining Committee:

Kelly Dobbs
Paul Boynett
John Sewell
Karen Lin
Ray Orsava
Dave Lewington

Rogers’ cuts to OMNI chip away at Canada’s cultural mosaic

Despite cuts to OMNI, Rogers Communications has the necessary resources to make quality local ethnic broadcasting work.

Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. is right now asking the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (our national broadcast regulator) to rewrite the rules governing ethnic television in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta – and not to the benefit of ethnic communities.

Rogers wants to direct its multilingual OMNI programming to fewer ethnic audiences, eliminating those it deems unprofitable. They are asking for the ability to remove half of the ethnic communities served. Rogers wants more flexibility to broadcast non-Canadian programming and feels that local community-based programming is too onerous, and wants to cut that, too. That likely means less local news for ethnic and third-language communities.

The company (one of Canada’s largest and wealthiest media corporations) says ethnic broadcasting isn’t paying the bills, that it’s a money loser.

We know that multicultural and multilingual television programming is vitally important to many newcomer communities across Canada. Ethnic broadcasting not only fosters a sense of connection to Canada’s cultural mosaic, it builds communities (through native language story-telling), provides employment opportunities (with in-house technical production, journalists and on-air personalities) and informs the public (through local news reporting in various languages).

Above all, it fosters greater participation in Canada’s democratic life.

It’s no surprise, then, that Canada’s immigrant and newcomer communities were stunned when Rogers announced job and program cuts impacting OMNI stations in May 2013, the latest in a series of ethnic television cuts over recent years.

Our union filed an official complaint with the CRTC, arguing that Rogers had breached the terms of its license. Canadians agreed. Many expressed frustration with the declining level of programming quality and local-ness in community ethnic television.

At OMNI-1 in Toronto, for instance, local programming has been cut in half since 2000/2001, according to the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications. Since 2005, staff in Toronto (arguably the most multi-cultural city in the country) has been cut by 80 per cent – barely above a skeleton crew today. In Alberta, OMNI stations in Edmonton and Calgary don’t employ a single local journalist reporting community news. In 2010, Rogers decided to dissolve community advisory boards, originally created to solicit input and feedback on OMNI programming – losing touch with its ethnic audience.

This consistent decline in resources dedicated to OMNI raises serious concerns about the future of ethnic broadcasting in Canada. Young viewers won’t tune in, if what they see isn’t relevant. And it won’t be relevant if it continues to be starved out.

In fairness to Rogers, the playing field among ethnic broadcasters is tilted. OMNI’s main source of revenue is advertising, and that’s becoming less lucrative as new ethnic specialty channels come online. Some specialty channels can charge viewers subscriber fees, a source of revenue not available to “over-the-air” broadcasters like OMNI (meaning that programs can be watched, for free, through a television antenna). This imbalance must be addressed by the CRTC, and we hope it frames part of the commission’s Ethnic Broadcasting Policy review set for 2016.

But if Rogers thinks the best way to solve its competitive woes is by taking away airtime for ethnic communities (to broadcast more lucrative U.S. programming), then that begs the question: Is Rogers still the most appropriate carrier of Over-the-Air ethnic programming? Ultimately, we think it is. Not only because Rogers has ethnic broadcasting experience, but also because it has the necessary resources to make quality local ethnic broadcasting work.

Rogers Communications is a multi-billion dollar operation that raked in $1.7 billion in profits in 2013. Rogers Media, its subsidiary, earned a healthy $161 million in profits. Dividend payments to shareholders topped $870 million. If Rogers continue to produce ethnic and multilingual programming, without any changes to its license, it would cost OMNI $2 million annually – a relatively small price to pay so that small-market and third-language communities are well-served. Ethnic broadcasting is about serving the public interest – not solely about padding a corporation’s profits.

The voices of our ethnic communities must speak out. The CRTC is holding hearings on April 8 to decide on Rogers proposed cuts. Rogers has had the privilege of delivering this vital service to our communities, for years. Let’s ensure they continue providing quality service for years to come.

Jerry Dias president of Unifor, which represents 660 workers at Rogers, including 60 at OMNI and 370 at City.

Published by the Toronto Star on March 26, 2014.

Welcome to Unifor

Unifor’s Mission

Unifor strives to protect the economic rights of our members and every member of the workforce (employed or unemployed). We are committed to building the strongest and most effective union to bargain on behalf of our members, working with our members to improve their rights in the workplace, and extending the benefits of unions to non-unionized workers and other interested Canadians.

Unifor’s History

Unifor was officially formed on August 31, 2013, at a Founding Convention in Toronto, Ontario. It marked the coming together of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) – two of Canada’s largest and most influential labour unions.

The birth of Unifor represented a sign of hope for the Canadian labour movement, and working people more generally.

For decades, union membership (as a share of total employment) had been in steady decline – particularly in the private sector. Running parallel to this decline in union density had been a sharp rise in income inequality, growing threats to retirement security, chronic unemployment and underemployment (particularly for young people) and a noticeable rise in insecure, precarious forms of work, especially among newcomers. The decline of union influence coincided with the rise of grossly imbalanced business-friendly policies, starting in the 1980s, that included tax cuts, labour market deregulation and corporate-led free trade deals.

Unifor was a bold answer to the question: "How do Canadian unions respond to the changing economy and these challenging times?"

Its large and diverse membership (that includes nearly every sector of the economy), makes it one of the most representative voices of our national economy. Its representative organizational structure and innovative forms of membership means it can better address regional economic and political matters on behalf of working people. Its core mandate – to be an effective union that is built by its members and deeply rooted in community – brings Unifor’s work into the day-to-day lives of Canadian families.

The Unifor project began as a discussion about union renewal in the fall of 2011 between former CAW President Ken Lewenza and former CEP President Dave Coles. Informal discussions led to formal talks among union leadership and staff. A formal discussion paper was prepared, which lead to a comprehensive, open and inclusive union revitalization project, spanning 20-months. Members were invited to follow developments of the New Union Project through regularly published reports, a frequently updated website, and were also asked to participate in telephone town hall meetings and online polls.

From its inception, Unifor has become a source of optimism and inspiration that a fairer, more secure future can be won for working people, that unions can adapt to changing times and remain a relevant voice for workplace and social justice.

CLC One Minute Message

The Canadian Labour Congress is pleased to announce that Michael Rouse is the first place winner (Solidarity Video) of this year's One Minute Message Video contest.

The objective was to come up with the best message and best video in just under a minute about how unions stand up for fairness, how unions deliver good jobs and better lives, how unions fight for a better deal for everyone. What does the “Union Advantage” mean for you, your family and your community?

Workers' Rights ALERT

Harper and Hudak are promoting changes to labour law that would drive down wages and harm Canadian society

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak has announced that he will weaken unions by making major changes to labour laws – if he wins the next Ontario election.

Prime Minister Harper has already pushed through Bill 377. This legislation was designed to disrupt unions by requiring extraordinary financial reporting. Harper may soon try to silence labour’s progressive political voice.

Read more about how the conservatives are trying to silence unions here.

Support Our TVO / Notre TFO

Dear CEP members and allies,

I am writing to invite you to join "Our TVO / Notre TFO" – a campaign coalition of families, educators, artists, and employees of TVO and TFO who, as citizens of Ontario, value public educational broadcast media and want a greater voice in shaping the future of TVO and TFO.

Please visit www.OurTVO.ca or www.notreTFO.ca and sign the letter to Ontario's premier, Kathleen Wynne, right away.

These are challenging times for the people of Ontario. We are dealing with a struggling economy, acrimonious public policy debates, and rapidly changing technology. At these moments we seek agencies that we can trust, that can unite us, and that can serve as a resource for information and enlightenment. For more than 40 years in Ontario, TVO and TFO have been such institutions.

However, this is a period of great uncertainty for public educational media in Ontario. Both TVO and TFO are doing more with less funding in real dollars than in years past. In the last Ontario Budget, the provincial government warned that TVO must "reduce its reliance on government funding." What exactly this means is unclear, although TVO announced the cancellation of three signature shows on November 13: Big Ideas, Allan Gregg In Conversation, and Saturday Night at the Movies. Many of our members also lost their jobs.

TVO and TFO belong to all of us. We all have a voice in shaping their future. This campaign is intended to help people and organizations like ours to raise our voices.

I sincerely hope you will accept my invitation to join the "Our TVO / Notre TFO" campaign.

Dave Coles
National President
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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