Unifor calls on CRTC to boost local news

 Unifor is calling upon Canada’s federal TV regulator to put teeth into broadcasters’ licence conditions for daily local news, including programming targeted to Canada’s ethnically diverse populations.

Unifor filed two submissions to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on August 15, one regarding ethnic and third language OMNI television, and the other regarding local TV “group licence” applications from Rogers, Corus, and Bell Media CTV.

While Unifor supports the principle behind a Rogers proposal for a mandatory monthly cable TV fee of 12 cents per subscriber to pay for daily news on its OMNI channels, the union is calling for tough conditions of license before Rogers gets the money. Unifor is also calling for the fee to be 15 cents to sustain hour-long daily news shows.

“If we are going to have a subscriber fee it has to be enough to get the job done,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “This minimal fee for third language and ethnic daily news is certainly in the same ballpark as existing fees for aboriginal and minority language French and English channels.”

OMNI channels provided an hour of news programming just a few years ago, then cut it to 30 minutes, and then cut it altogether last year. OMNI was the only broadcaster providing news in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi.

On the group licensing for local TV stations, Unifor is calling upon CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais to back up the statement he made in June 2016:  “As custodians of the television system, broadcasters have a special obligation to ensure that the system reflects our identity, contributes to our democracy and enhances our safety and security. Local news, information and analysis produced and distributed through the broadcasting system are of central importance to meeting these objectives.”

Unifor supports strict standards for broadcaster expenditures on local TV as well as air time for local programming. It also supports enforceable standards for the number of reporters covering a given community and less centrally produced news segments.

“Canadians turn to their local TV channels expecting to see their communities reflected on their television screens. They also need TV news reporting to hold government and powerful institutions to account” Law said.

Public hearings on licence conditions begin in late November in the national capital region.

FEBRUARY UPDATE

FAMILY DAY

BC’s Family Day on February 8th is just another day at work for Unionized employees.  Some members have decided to use their one Union floater day on the 8th, however it is not mandatory.  We were unsuccessful in getting the Company to recognize this provincial stat, they do recognize BC Day in August and Remembrance Day in November.

BENEFITS OF BENEFITS

Rogers wealth accumulation program and employee discount program are now available to all unionized employees at CITY and OMNI.  Contact a member of the Executive Board or any fellow member who has signed up to find out how to take advantage of these great offers.

IMPORTANT PENSION CHANGES

Rogers has announced they are no longer going to be offering a Defined Benefits (DB) Pension to new employees, opting to offer a less attractive Defined Contribution (DC) Pension. Current employee will remain in the DB plan. Over a dozen members who are currently not taking advantage of this very generous DB plan have until June 30th, 2016 to sign up or you will lose out.

Many employees who were laid off last May and had been in the plan since 2009 were paid out over a $60,000 benefit from Rogers DB Pension plan.

CRTC UPDATE

COMMISSION DENIES UNIFOR COMPLAINT

CRTC Decision 2016-8 denied the applications by Unifor Local 723M and Urban Alliance on Race Relations for an expedited public hearing into Rogers’ May 2015 decision to cancel local third-language newscasts on its OMNI stations.

Ontario CRTC commissioner Raj Shoan disagreed with the decision and said that the CRTC should have taken this opportunity to undertake a review of the 1999 Ethnic Broadcasting Policy in conjunction with this decision.

While the CRTC spins its wheels with bureaucratic process Vancouver’s Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi communities will continue to be denied the daily local ethnic news Rogers promised Canadians when it received its licence renewal for OMNI just last year.

That said, the OMNI cuts issue has come up several times during the CRTC’s current public hearing on local television.

Let’s Talk Local TV News

Local President Steve Hawkins appeared in front of the CRTC’s current hearing into local TV news, on Thursday, January 28th.

He called for stronger conditions of licence to require Rogers to provide the levels of local news programming they promised Canadians when they were allowed to purchase CITY and OMNI.  He said the CRTC’s lack of conditions of licence allowed Rogers to make programming changes that resulted devastating job loss.

From his presentation:

“Some have asked if local programming on OMNI and CITY in western Canada is the canary in the coal mine for local news.  If it is, that canary is lying on the bottom of the cage and its future prospects don’t look very good.  It’s being starved of the resources it needs to survive”.

He also called on the CRTC to conduct a separate review of the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy.

A full transcript of his presentation can be found on the Local web site: www.unifor830m.ca.

Video of the presentation can be found on CPAC2, Jan 28th, second posting at 1:45 to 2:05

Interestingly, when the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (the 2nd party to file an application on the OMNI cuts) appeared on Friday – emphasizing ethnic communities’ shock at the CRTC’s unwillingness to take action over the cuts – the CRTC’s Chair, Jean-Pierre Blais essentially said that Rogers was not yet off the hook for local news, and that he very much hoped the Alliance (and others) would be involved in the spring 2017 renewal process.

The CRTC will likely be sending out broadcasters’ television licence renewal application forms this September, for a hearing in March/April or even earlier – Jean-Pierre Blais’ term as CRTC Chair ends 7 June 2017:  if he wants to set his mark on the renewal decisions, they would probably have to happen by February, to permit the decisions to be issued within the next four months.

Stephen will be travelling to Ottawa in the first week in February to call on the new Liberal Government to require the CRTC to act on these important policies and to support the work we do in providing local news and local programming on CITY and OMNI

Re-Newed Executive Board

 

Vice President: Tanya Luciani

Woman’s Advocate: Tasneem Razvi

Secretary: Cindy Leong

Treasurer: Gerald Christenson

Executive Members Contact Info 

 

CRTC Update

The CRTC is conducting hearings into the future of Local Programming. Unifor National and your Local Union have made detailed Interventions and hope to appear in front of the Commission at the end of January 2016.

Unifor is hopeful the new Liberal Government will listen to Canadians and act in support of local Canadian programming in ways the previous Conservative Government refused to.  It’s been five months since two complaints were launched against Rogers decision to cut local ethnic news programming across the country.  The new Liberal Cabinet can instruct the CRTC to require Rogers to live up to the commitments they made to Canadians when they were granted their OMNI broadcast licences in July 2014.

830M Comments on Broadcast Notice of Consultation 2015-421

Unifor National Submission BNOC2015-421 

 Wealth Accumulation & Discounts

The Company will be signing up Unionized employees for Rogers wealth accumulation program and cellphone discounts in the weeks ahead.

If you have any questions or experience problems enrolling contact an Executive Board member and we will help you out.

 

Annual General Membership Meeting

Unifor Local 830M

Annual General Membership Meeting

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Multi Purpose Room 1 at Creekside Community Centre has been book for meetings at 10 AM and 12:30 PM.

 

On The Agenda:

  1. Update on presentations to the CRTC by Unifor prior to January public hearings
  2. Wealth Accumulation Q&A (Sunlife to present on Tuesday, Nov 24th at 10 & 1:30)
  3. Changes to the Collective Agreement Q&A
  4. Union Elections for
  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Chief Steward
  • Women’s Advocate

Please consider helping out in one of these important roles.

 

Local by-laws require that you notify someone on the current executive board prior to the day of the election of your intent to run for office.

Vice President: vacant (elected odd years)
By-Law: 2.2.2 Vice President
The Vice-President shall act in place and instead of the Local President in the event of the latter’s inability or refusal to act.
Secretary: Cindy Leong (elected odd years)
By-Law: 2.2.3 Secretary
(i)  The Local Secretary shall conduct the correspondence pertaining to the business of the Local and shall keep the official records of the Local.
(ii)  The Secretary shall give notice of all General, Special and Executive Board Meetings.
(iii)  The Secretary shall record minutes at all General, Special and Executive Board Meetings
Treasurer: Gerald Christenson (elected even years)
By-Law: 2.2.4 Treasurer
The Treasurer shall have charge and custody of, and be responsible for, all funds and securities of the Local, receive and give receipts for all monies due and payable to the Local and deposit such monies in the name of the Local with such banks or other financial institutions authorized as depositories by the Local Executive Board.
Chief Steward: vacant (elected odd years)
By-Law: 2.2.5 Chief Steward
(1)The Chief Steward shall assist the President and Vice-President in the administration of the collective agreement.
 
Stephen Hawkins
Local President, Unifor 830 M

Memorandum of Agreement 2015 to 2020

Thanks to the many members who showed up to one of our four ratification meetings today. The memorandum of agreement was enthusiastically accepted by the membership.

Memorandum of Agreement 2015 to 2020

RATIFIED, September 8th, 2015

Next Step

Annual General Membership Meeting

November 2015, TBA

  1. Membership Education

  2. Wealth Accumulation Q&A

  3. Changes to the Collective Agreement Q&A

  4. Union Elections for:

        • Vice President
        • Secretary
        • Chief Steward
        • Women’s Advocate

Anyone interested in an executive position should contact:

Stephen Hawkins:  president@unifor830m.ca

Mark Cameron: mark.cameron@unifor.org

 

Stephen Hawkins
Local President, Unifor 830 M
president@unifor830m.ca

Ratification Vote

Dear Unifor 830M Member:

Your Bargaining Committee met with the Company over several days and has developed a memorandum of agreement that we recommend you accept. You must attend one of four meetings to get the specific details and cast your vote.

The results of this vote will affect your working life for years to come, so please take the time to show up. There will be food and beverages.

Tuesday, September 8th, Four Meetings: 10AM, 12 Noon, 2PM & 4PM
Creekside Community Centre, Meeting Room 2

Stephen Hawkins
Local President, Unifor 830 M
president@unifor830m.ca

Union urges CRTC to expedite public inquiry into news cuts at Rogers’ OMNI Television

Aug 31st, 2015: CARTT.CA

TORONTO – A union representing some employees at TV stations operated by Rogers Media is using the upcoming federal election to help push forward its demand that the CRTC “hold Rogers to account” for cutting news on its OMNI TV stations earlier this year.

In a letter to the CRTC dated August 29, 2015, Unifor Local 723M says that “ethnic communities across Canada have been denied access to free television news about the election in their languages since the election was called” earlier this month.

This,continues the letter, is why the Commission should expedite Unifor’s request filed in June for a public hearing into the matter.
“The harm to voters’ rights is why we asked for an
expedited hearing. To date, the CRTC has remained silent on our request”, reads the letter signed by Rogers Unit Local723M vice-president Angelo Contarin. “We are gravely concerned that the CRTC’s silence lends a troubling patina of authority to Rogers’ decision, and that some broadcasters may interpret this silence as tacit consent to even more cuts to over‐the‐air broadcast news.”

In a Part 1 application dated June 5, Unifor 723M asked for an expedited public hearing into the cancellation of original local ethnic television newscasts by Rogers Broadcasting Limited on its OMNI stations, and a mandatory order requiring their reinstatement.
Rogers Media announced in May that it was cancelling local third-language newscasts on its five OMNI TV stations in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., a move that resulted in the loss of 110 jobs at the stations.

Response by Unifor Local 723M to the CRTC

Thanks to  the thousands of Canadians who have expressed their great concern about Rogers decision to shut down multicultural newsrooms across the country, and especially to the over 880 individuals that took the time to register interventions in support of our efforts at the CRTC to hold Rogers accountable.
 
This is the final response document in Local 723M’s current complaint process; this is not the final chapter for daily multicultural news in Canada. 
In this election year the Canadian Government has the responsibility to call on the CRTC to act on this important matter.  Rogers will also be required to tell Canadians why they are the best Company to be entrusted with five of Canada’s six multicultural broadcast licences as they apply for license renewals in 2016/2017. 
Hopefully we can continue to count on you for support as we participate in this important process.
 
Stephen Hawkins
Local President, Unifor 830 M

 

Cuts to OMNI Outrage Community Groups & Politicians

Here is what people are saying:

Rogers decision to cut OMNI News across the country has outraged community groups and politicians across all levels of government.

Rogers has walked away from its responsibilities to the multi-ethnic communities by eliminating all local multicultural news and diversity programs.

Local Multicultural news connects us to our communities, it links generations and provides access to essential information for citizens to participate fully in their communities and our Canadian democracy society.

The CRTC must mandate Rogers to fulfill their obligations to the multicultural communities and bring back local multicultural news to the standard that was in place when Roger’s obtained the original licenses.

Contact the CRTC Directly Here

Others agree that Rogers should do more, here is what they have to say:

York South – Weston, Liberal MPP  Former Anchor on OMNI’s Italian Edition, statement in the Ontario Legislative Assembly, May 11

York South – Weston NDP MP, Mike Sullivan letter to the CRTC, May 14th

Newton – North Delta NDP MP, Jinny Sims quotes in CANINDIAN, May 15

Canadian Punjabi Advocacy Committee letter of complaint Re OMNI TV News May 20

Group of Concerned Toronto Area Italians letter to the CRTC, May 22

Unifor’s Media Director, Howard Law’s letter of Complaint to the CRTC, May 29

Vaughan Conservative MP, Julian Fantino, May 29th, 2015 Statement

Unifor 723M CRTC Complaint – media release, June 8

Unifor Local 723M, detailed CRTC Complaint, June 8

Canadian Punjabi Advocacy Committee letter of complaint to the CRTC, June 8

Letter from Ontario Minister Chan to Chair Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, June 15

Rogers executives get call to appear in front of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Heritage on June 17th

Public Interest Advocacy Centre, support for Unifor 723M Complaint, June 19

Globe & Mail Article: Tonight on Omni: The Fun Time Harper Variety Hour!, June 20

 

For more information on Canada’s Ethnic Communities efforts to get Rogers to bring back OMNI news follow the Facebook Site: No OMNI News Is Bad News